In this mailbag, we tackle: Zay Flowers vs. Tank Dell, Olumuyiwa Fashanu’s decision, and just how many punters will be drafted.
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NFL Draft News and Rumors Mailbag
Q: With the regular season now concluded, who’s the top tackle prospect for you? How does the OT group settle out?
I’m not a fan of the OT class, I believe it is awful compared to recent classes, and at most, there will be two tackles selected in the first round, Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State as well as Peter Skoronski of Northwestern. I have Skoronski on my guard board until I find his true measurables.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Q: The Chicago Bears currently hold the No. 2 overall pick – will they trade out if someone comes calling for a quarterback? Should they? And what would that haul look like?
Too many variables in the question. How far are they trading down? How many teams are competing for the pick? Will teams such as the Panthers or Saints be clamoring to move up for Bryce Young, assuming the Texans don’t select him at the top?
Q: Zay Flowers vs. Tank Dell — who has the higher NFL ceiling?
I believe it’s Flowers. Dell is taller (but thinner) and slightly faster, but Flowers is much more natural, shows greater awareness on the field, and is very reliable.
Q: With opinion wavering on the 2023 NFL Draft quarterback class, how many first-round signal-callers will we see in April?
Right now, I believe just two; Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud (assuming he enters). If Will Levis has a great Senior or Shrine Bowl, he could move into the first round. I like Tanner McKee but struggle to see him as a first-rounder.
Q: UAB running back DeWayne McBride has been dominant this season. How do you see his projection to the next level? Where is a realistic draft range for him?
If he enters the draft, DeWayne McBride is a Day 3 selection. He possesses good size and strength, and he’s been very productive. But McBride is more of a downhill ball carrier who struggles changing direction or altering the angle of runs. He’s a grinder who can’t create. Five combined receptions in the past two seasons won’t help his cause either.
Q: How does the RB class compare to recent seasons? Is there a good chance we see a return back to a first-round RB selection after none were taken in Round 1 in 2022?
I like the running back class at the top (Days 1 and 2) but feel it falls off quickly. The middle and late-round guys have a lot of questions or limitations.
I said all along in the lead-up to the 2022 draft that Breece Hall was first-round talent playing a second-round position. Considering how well he was doing before his injury — and Hall was spectacular — I’ve got to believe that teams who passed on Hall in the bottom half of Round 1 will consider Bijan Robinson in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Q: Last year, there were four punters selected, tied most since 1988. What are the chances that we see a similar amount of special-teams success in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Teams will always look to save money on punters if they can. The problem is there aren’t too many punters with draftable grades.
Q: You mentioned in an article earlier this week people in the league called the decision by Olumuyiwa Fashanu “courageous.” Have you heard anything else, and what did you think of his decision?
Several scouts were critical of Fashanu’s decision as they believed he would’ve been a top-eight pick, which would’ve come with a guaranteed contract of $30 million. Many pointed the finger at PSU head coach James Franklin, believing he gave Fashanu bad information.
That being the case, I was alerted Fashanu reportedly had injury issues, which was a factor in his decision not to enter the draft. I understand his decision to an extent. He’s only 19 years old and started just one full season. If the injuries I was told about are significant, Fashanu could’ve struggled at the next level from the get-go.
Q: With the reporting of all the underclassmen you hear are entering the draft, are there any surprises on players who may stay in school?
I’m told Oregon QB Bo Nix is on the fence about whether he’ll enter the draft, and there’s a real chance he could return to Oregon.
Tight end McCallan Castles of UC Davis was graded as a Day 2 pick entering the season by a bunch of scouts. I’m told he has entered the transfer portal and will likely spend the 2023 season on the college field.