2023 NFL Draft: First-round prospects who are perfect fits for every 0-2 NFL team

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jalencarter 1 2023 NFL Draft: First-round prospects who are perfect fits for every 0-2 NFL team

Bearing bad news is no fun, and believe me, I’m an advocate of the phrase “never say never,” especially when it comes to anything involving the NFL. But if your team starts 0-2 this season, history says they’re not going to make the playoffs.

2018 is the first time a team has started 0-2 and advanced to the playoffs. The Texans and Seahawks both accomplished the feat that year. Since 1990, the league has expanded the postseason to 12 teams — and of course it’s 14 teams with additional regular-season competition — to start a season 0-2 and roughly 10% of clubs enter scratch and claw. Playoffs.

So, join me in evaluating draft prospects before October! It’s fun, I promise. Below you’ll find three prospects you should follow more closely over the next few months than your friends for April’s draft.

Cincinnati Bengals

Top 5 chance

Olumuiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Well, hurry up. Fashanu, at the time of publication, is not a consensus top 5 prospect. But he fits the perfect mold of an offensive tackle that climbs the boards every draft season. He’s young — only a redshirt sophomore — has the size and length of a legitimate NFL left tackle, is a high-skill athlete and has started the season well, especially from a pass-protection standpoint.

Yes, indeed, the best football players are selected in the top 5 every April. However, you’ve always had to be a freak athlete to earn a place in that exclusive club, and Fashanu checks the boxes.

Top 10 Opportunities

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Skoronski is an offensive tackle prospect that everyone likes because of his sparkling-clean film, but the NFL will rate him a little lower because he lacks prototypical size and isn’t a powerful mauler. Ironically, he has a lot of Jonah Williams in his game, and Goronski could theoretically replace Williams if the former first-round pick doesn’t bounce back from a disastrous start to the 2022 campaign.

Top 20 chance

Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

You can flip through Skoronski and Jones if you want and I’ll fix it. At this early point in the college football season, they both feel like mid-to-late first-round talent prospects. They are polar opposites. Skoronski is an athletic and poised blocker. Almost elegant in a way. Jones likes to destroy everything in his path and is not so polished.

If Bengal are still revamping their offensive line, these three prospects should be at the top of the priority list.

Tennessee Titans

Top 5 chance

Kelly Ringo, CB, Georgia

Ringo is a five-star recruit and plays like it. His athleticism comes off film, and he had two picks and eight pass breakups last season. Now, the charges against him are flat. If there’s one cornerback who could find himself in the top 5 in April, it’s Ringo, and the Titans need more high-end talent at the position. Ringo and Georgia will get plenty of reps against top talent this season as they run through the SEC and make another College Football Playoff appearance.

Top 10 Opportunities

Trenton Simpson, LB/EDGE, Clemson

It’s these early moves that may ultimately look bad, but I really feel like The Simpsons are sleeping right now. And most analysts see him as a first-round talent. For me, he has the top 10 written all over him. The Clemson star is long, can corner the passer, and has a suddenness to his game as he flies to the football. Linebacker is another major need spot in Tennessee’s defense, and it’s not crazy to assume Mike Vrabel would gravitate toward a multi-dimensional off-ball linebacker.

Top 20 chance

Michael Meyer, TE, Notre Dame

Titans could use more firepower, right? Derrick Henry can’t always carry the offense, and I like the upside of Traylon Burks. After all, who else can we really be excited about long-term? Meyer is an admirable blocker and has been open to everything since his freshman season at Notre Dame. He doesn’t look like an elite athlete, and he’s not physically intimidating, but it would be surprising if he lands outside of the first round.

Las Vegas Raiders

Top 5 chance

Antonio Johnson, S/CB, Texas A&M

Johnson looks like your grandfather’s strong defense, and then you see him move. And you’re blown away. He has nickel cornerback feet and spent most of his Aggies career in the slot. The Raiders will need to invest heavily in their secondary if they are going to compete in a division with 27-year-old Patrick Mahomes and 24-year-old Justin Herbert. Johnson could be a multi-responsible defensive weapon for Las Vegas, and it’s conceivable that he could sneak into the top 5 if he consolidates.

Top 10 Opportunities

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

All of this publicity for Smith-Njikpa comes after he was injured in Ohio State’s opener. Bam-mar. Teams haven’t forgotten his dazzling true sophomore season in 2021. Once he recovers, Smith-Najikba is going to get massive stat lines catching passes from CJ Stroud. How fast can he run? To break into the top 10 as a receiver, you need to run 4.40. The Raiders are seemingly loaded at wideout, although it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to relieve some pressure and attention from Tawante Adams.

Top 20 chance

Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Harrison is your classic Oklahoma tackle and is blessed with quality footwork and poise. His 2022 season is off to a strong start, and size-power models are typically selected early in the draft. Golden Miller is a reasonably positioned left tackle. Josh McDaniels must find a consistent right tackle to anchor the entire offensive front. That guy could be Harrison.

Carolina Panthers

Top 5 chance

One quarter

I know Baker Mayfield is the starter, and the Panthers traded future picks for him. Unless he takes drastic measures going forward — and the Panthers In fact Turn things around in a hurry — the next regime will have no obligation to retain him as a starter. Whether it’s Stroud, or Bryce Young, or a late riser, Carolina needs to do something Matt Rule hasn’t done during his tenure with the Panthers — select a quarterback in the first round.

Top 10 Opportunities

Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

Brian Burns is a good player. Sometimes big. He doesn’t usually take over games and the Panthers will benefit from a running back opposite him on the front line. Murphy is a DUDE, a former five-star recruit who thrived last season, finishing with eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He’s off to a bit of a slow start this season, but at 6-4 and 270 pounds with great explosiveness, he’ll be in the Top 10 conversation come April.

Top 20 chance

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Campbell is in the Fred Warner/Tremaine Edmonds mold at off-ball linebacker. The range he gets selected will depend on how well he tests, which applies to all these prospects. But this is a super-productive, rangy ‘backer who will make a formidable duo next to Brandon Smith in Carolina for years to come.

Atlanta Falcons

Top 5 chance

Jalen Carter, TD, Georgia

Forever, I begged the Falcons to get Grady Jarrett legal help. They didn’t really listen. Carter will be more than helpful. He will be a game changing presence in Atlanta and can learn a lot from Jarrett in all phases of the game. Carter was the best defensive lineman on Georgia’s ridiculously stacked team a season ago. He has 5 written all over him.

Top 10 Opportunities

Felix Anutick-Uzoma, Edge, Kansas State

FAU is a feisty, high-motor, curvy, no-nonsense outside rusher who popped up on the draft radar last season with a win, recording 11 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Everything about his game is attractive, and with a strong combination — as it might appear based on film — he could be a second or third edge rusher off the board. The Falcons need all the pass-rush talent they can get.

Top 20 chance

Andre Carter, Edge, Army

Carter was an unstoppable force last season, regardless of the competition he faced at Army. Listed at 6-7 and 260 pounds, he already looks like an NFL defensive end and will likely never play. And there’s impressive power to his game, and he understands the finesse needed to beat blockers with his hands.

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