NFL Hot Press: Multiple Teams Have Devon Witherspoon as Mid-First-rounder

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Combine Logo Multiple Teams Have Devon Witherspoon as Mid-First-rounder

Updated March 1, 2023
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon has been a common projection in 2023 NFL Mock Drafts as a top-10 pick. Witherspoon was a steady cover corner for the Illini over his career. He made his way onto the field as a freshman in 2019, recording 33 tackles and two passes defended. In 2020, he totaled 33 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries, but zero passes broken up. As a junior, Witherspoon recorded 52 tackles and nine passes broken up, but zero interceptions. He then showed improved ball skills in 2022 with 40 tackles, three interceptions, and 14 pass breakups. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Witherspoon is smaller than ideal for the pro game, which hurts him with teams. Sources from multiple teams picking in the top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft say they do not view Witherspoon as a top-10 talent.

“We don’t have him as a top-10 candidate,” said a director of player personnel for a team picking in the top 10. “He has dog to him, and some speed and explosion, but his speed is not special. He has a skinny lower body, and I’m not sure he will hold up and avoid injury.”

Sources stated Witherspoon could add some weight and get stronger to help ease the size concerns. However, they said they worried that Witherspoon could lose some speed and explosion if he got heavier. Hence, Witherspoon needs to find a happy medium that is difficult to peg.

Team sources say that if the Philadelphia Eagles had not lost Jonathan Gannon, that Witherspoon could have been a serious contender for the Eagles with the No. 10 pick because Witherspoon would have been a tremendous scheme fit for Gannon. However, Gannon was hired away by the Arizona Cardinals to be their new head coach. Witherspoon is not a candidate to go third overall, but if the Cardinals were to trade down, he might become an option for them, especially if Byron Murphy leaves in free agency.

The 2023 NFL Draft lacks elite corner prospects like “Sauce” Gardner or Derek Stingley from 2022. Witherspoon is in the running to be the top corner this year, competing Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. But team sources seem to prefer Gonzalez and Porter because they are bigger and seen as more durable. Sources from multiple teams said they view Witherspoon as more of a mid-first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.