The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.
Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.
Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.
As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 1 of college football!
Paris Johnson, Jr. | OT | Ohio State
Many NFL scouts were watching Saturday’s game with great anticipation, waiting to see what Ohio State’s reshuffled offensive line would look like. Come to find out, the unit looked incredibly strong, allowing only one sack as a whole. The player projected to be the best lineman on the unit played like such against the Irish, and that player is none other than Paris Johnson, Jr. Johnson has finally became the full-time left tackle, and his first performance in 2022 was stellar, as he displayed solid footwork, great balance, and a consistent pad level. If Johnson’s play is consistently strong against big-time competition, he will have a chance to become the first tackle off the board in April.
Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia
Jones was already respected as a strong run-blocking tackle, but after starting only four games at left tackle in 2021, there were concerns as to how well he would hold up in pass protection. Nevertheless, Jones, sent a strong message to his doubters after Week 1, as did the entire Georgia Bulldogs team. Jones displayed great mobility and swift feet, getting out of his stance smoothly and mirroring Oregon pass rushers consistently. He is still a little choppy in his stance at times, but overall, his stock is trending in the right direction after Week 1. With a strong season, expect to see Jones in the first round of most, if not all, mock drafts this spring.
Ivan Pace, Jr. | ILB | Cincinnati
All three of the players discussed today were mentioned in last week’s Week 1 preview article, and all three of them lived up to expectations on Saturday. Although it was in a losing effort, Pace was a wrecking ball, amassing 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Pace gave the Bearcats defense a spark of electricity, and that will be much needed this season, as Cincy is still learning to cope after losing Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Coby Bryant, Darrian Beavers, and Myjai Sanders. Pace may lack elite length, but he displays tremendous closing speed, and his ability to diagnose the play quickly will bode him well moving forward.
Others Who Improved Their Stock
DJ Turner | CB | Michigan (2 TCKL, 1 TFL, 2 FUM REC)
Mazi Smith | NT | Michigan (4 TCKL, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 SCK)
Bryce Ford-Wheaton | WR | West Virginia (9 REC, 97 YDS, 2 TD)
Charlie Jones | WR | Purdue (12 REC, 153 YDS, 1 TD)
Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State (8 TCKL, 3 PD)
Joe Evans | EDGE/LB | Iowa (3 TCKL, 2 SCK, 2.5 TFL)
Anthony Grant | RB | Nebraska (23 CAR, 189 YDS, 2 TD)
Keylon Stokes | WR | Tulsa (11 REC, 169 YDS, 1 TD)
What are your thoughts on the aforementioned prospects? Do any of them make sense for the Steelers? Which draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!