No draft should be seen as a failure because of the number of draftees a team contributes. It’s more than a numbers game, it’s a reason for personal celebration for those that it really matters, the draftees.
However, all that is now in the past and it’s time for a way too early look at the Tigers prospects for the 2023 draft. This will be entirely speculative but I believe it could be fun. So, here goes.
First, some overall observations. This defense, by the sheer numbers and talent that could be lost to the draft, will need some rebuilding and reloading. Offensively, the relative youth of this group is apparent and that is a positive. However, it’s on this side of the ball where the lingering negative perceptions of 2021 could definitely effect the draft stocks of many. Let’s hope not.
Special teams loses only one but it’s a big one. BT Potter moves on but there is a lot of young talent just waiting for their opportunity to shine. Lastly, if Clemson is to compete for another national championship, it needs to be in 2022. The 2023 and 2024 seasons might be developmental years and sure to bring out the doomsday prophets heralding Dabo Swinney’s and Clemson’s dynastic demise.
Making a cursory look at the 2022 roster and who is most likely to be potentials in the 2023 NFL Draft, the sky is the limit. Here’s a look at a breakdown by position group.
Bryan Bresee DT, Tyler Davis DT, KJ Henry DE, Myles Murphy DE, Justin Mascoll DE, Ruke Orhorhoro DT, Xavier Thomas DE
Just reading that list of potential draftees makes one’s head swim. One has to imagine what this group can accomplish this season. It’s my opinion that Bryan Bresee, KJ Henry, Tyler Davis and Myles Murphy could go high in the draft. So could Xavier Thomas. Where they actually end up depends on how well they play and how healthy they stay.
Linebackers, Cornerbacks and Safeties
Lavonta Bentley LB, Trenton Simpson LB, Sheridan Jones CB, Fred Davis II CB, Malcom Greene CB, Lannden Zanders S, Jalyn Phillips S
Again, there’s a lot of talent in these position groups and there are several names that could be called in next year but Sheridan Jones is the only true senior. Looking at last year, this group was fairly young and one could see several staying for their final season of eligibility. Again, it’s all speculation and everything could change depending on individual performances and potential injures. The names most likely to be called are Sheridan Jones and Trenton Simpson.
Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers
DJ Uiagalelei QB, Joesph Ngata WR, EJ Williams WR, Kobe Pace RB
I can’t make many definitive statements regarding any player with eligibility left, but I believe that DJ Uiagalelei’s draft situation is very clear. He either has a great season, lives up to expectations and gets taken, or he won’t. It’s redundant to say, but his future is clearly and solely in his hands. While he has another year of eligibility, one could suspect, if he’s not the starter and his draft stock is low, he could enter the transfer portal because I can’t see him staying if he’s not the starter. Just my opinion.
Joseph Ngata is a huge question mark. He’s extremely talented but extremely fragile. If he can remain healthy his draft stock will rise. EJ Williams, if he plays to his potential, could be a name called early in 2023. The lone RB, Kobe Pace, could enter the draft but if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, Pace would most likely remain for a final season.
Walker Parks, OG, Will Putnam OG/C, Jordan McFadden OT
This position group is still a work in progress and I believe is a crucial piece in the success of the 2022 season. Without a beast in the group and remembering that two-time Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, Mitch Hyatt went undrafted in the 2019 draft, I don’t see many names being called from this group. One could see a few unsigned free agents emerging, maybe but that depends on individual performances.
BT Potter, PK
I understand pickers and punters don’t usually go highly in the draft process. Only the best usually get a chance but I believe BT Potter is one of the best and hopefully will get his chance.
Next year’s draft is most likely to be a great one for Swinney’s Tigers. Can it rival the success of the 2019 NFL draft, that remains to be seen. Just how great will be measured on the field of play. I can see several first and second rounders possibly upwards of 5-6. All in all, it should be enjoyable to watch the 2023 NFL Draft and hear some familiar names called to go forth and continue their dreams.
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