2023 NFL Draft: College Game Recaps - Week 1

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2023 NFL Draft Prospects have performed.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: draftcampbell@gmail.com
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

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  • This game was a coming-out party for Florida State defensive end Jared Verse. The Albany transfer was electric versus LSU, displaying serious speed, athleticism, and functional strength. Verse looked completely natural in his first game of big-time college football.

    In the first half, Verse made a big impact with a blocked field goal and then showed some impressive speed, blowing past a guard to collapse the pocket and sack LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. Verse forced other pressures on Daniels and chased him out of the pocket on a number of plays. Midway through the fourth quarter on a third-and-2, Verse tossed the right tackle to the side to fly into the backfield for a tackle for a loss. In the final 30 seconds, Verse notched a huge sack, rocking the right tackle off balance before darting past him to take down Daniels.

    This was a superb outing for Verse that illustrated his pass-rush ability and speed around the corner. He demonstrated functional strength, athleticism, and a steady motor. Verse looked like an early-round talent versus LSU.

  • Tigers wide receiver Kayshon Boutte is considered to be one of the top receiver prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft, but he turned in an ugly performance against Florida State. On the opening drive, Boutte made a leaping grab in the end zone, but the Seminoles cornerback was able to dislodge the ball when Boutte landed hard on the ground. Later in the first half, Boutte ran a lazy route, seemingly not thinking the pass would come his direction. As part of that, he didn't turn around, letting the ball sail by him on what could have easily been a touchdown.

    Boutte drew a pass interference flag in the third quarter from Seminoles safety Jammie Robinson holding Boutte from making a big catch downfield. With less than six minutes remaining, Boutte finally got his first reception of the evening, bringing in a pass in the flat to convert a fourth down. A couple of plays later, however, Boutte dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands. He finished with two receptions for 20 yards.

    The tape from this game will hurt Boutte's grade for the 2023 NFL Draft. He ran some lazy routes, dropped a pass, and seemed to lose his composure and get frustrated. Boutte will need to play much better in the weeks to come.

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  • Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft at this point. While Stroud did not have a prolific night against Notre Dame, he made enough plays to help get the Buckeyes this tough win.

    In the first quarter, Stroud dropped in a beautiful pass downfield for a potential touchdown, but Marvin Harrison Jr. could not maintain control as he landed on the ground. Stroud came back to throw an out route that his receiver turned up the field for a 31-yard touchdown. Late in the second quarter, Stroud had a receiver running open for a third-down conversion attempt, but the pass was behind and poorly placed, so it fell incomplete. The corner of the field was wide open to the end zone, so the play was a huge missed opportunity for Stroud.

    Notre Dame had an excellent game plan to keep Ohio State from producing big plays, and the Buckeyes really missed star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who left the game in the first quarter after his left leg was rolled up on.

    Stroud made a nice play in the third quarter when he dodged a sack before making a throw along the sideline for a gain of about 15 yards. To finish the drive, he lofted in a pretty pass for a 24-yard touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 14-10 lead. Stroud completed 24-of-34 passes against Notre Dame for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

    Overall, this tape won't hurt or help Stroud significantly. While he wasn't prolific or dominant, he was efficient and managed the game well enough to get a win.

  • Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is one of the top tight end prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft, but he was held to 32 yards on five receptions. New Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner really struggled against Ohio State, throwing only 18 passes - and completing 10 - and racking up 177 yards. Mayer has mismatch ability, but if Buchner struggles this season, that could really hurt Mayer's chances of being a first-round pick next April in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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  • Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson flashed a huge skill set in limited backup duty in 2021. He is now the full-time starting quarterback for the Gators. Richardson played really well to open 2022 and showed off the special skill set that will probably send him to the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

    In the first quarter, Richardson used his amazing running ability and size to get free of some sacks, but he also missed pulling the trigger on some routine throws. Richardson showed off his cannon of an arm by converting a third-and-15 with a bullet in zone coverage. Richardson later rolled out to make a short completion for a fourth-down conversion that set up a first-and-goal. On the next play, he took a zone-read run to score from two yards out.

    Late in the first half, Richardson fired two bullets to move past midfield. He made a great play to get Florida the lead when he dropped back to pass and found nothing open. He responded by running around the left side of the line before exploding down the field. Richardson dodged a tackle inside the five and scored with a 45-yard touchdown run.

    Late in the third quarter, Richardson missed an open receiver and made a terrible decision, sailing a pass into a crowd of defenders. He was fortunate that the easy would-be interception was dropped. In the fourth quarter, Richardson helped move the ball with some clutch runs and then made a highlight-reel play to avoid a sack and find a receiver for a key two-point conversion to put Florida up 22-19.

    After falling behind 26-22, Richardson had one more drive, and he used his legs to convert a fourth-and-3 to get into the red zone. To finish the possession, Richardson ran the ball in from a yard out, and that turned into the game winning touchdown. Richardson finished the evening having completed 17-of-24 passes for 168 yards. On the ground, he ran 11 times, amassing 104 yards and three touchdowns.

    This was a very positive tape for Richardson. While he still has room for improvement, he showed major progress from 2021, including better passing on short throws, better field vision, and better decision-making. Richardson needs to improve his accuracy on some staple NFL throws, but he is definitely showing that he is headed in the right direction. Richardson has a crazy skill set of amazing running ability, good size, and a cannon for an arm. If he can continue to improve, he could end up as the No. 1-overall pick next April in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Utah tight end Brant Kuithe had an excellent season opener that helped his draft stock. In the first quarter, Kuithe scored from seven yards out after getting open on a shallow cross and powering through two defenders to get over the goal line. During the next quarter, Kuithe made a nice play on which he broke a tackle and then ran for a first down. Late in the third quarter, Kuithe went down the seam and hauled in a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch with a nice run for a 37-yard gain.

    In the fourth quarter, Kuithe converted a clutch third down, running a slant and getting the Utes across midfield. He totaled nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Kuithe showed nice route running, soft hands, quickness, and the toughness to pick up yards after the catch. This tape will really help his draft grade.

  • Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller showed some next-level ability during the 2020 season, and the Gators really missed him when he was out for almost all of 2021. Miller played well against Utah, his return to the field, showing off tough run defense and physicality in the tackle box.

    In the early going, Miller made a superb run fill in the hole to stuff a run for no gain. Shortly later, he notched a nice tackle in pass coverage in space to get the Florida defense off the field. In the third quarter on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Miller laid a huge hit on a running back that forced a fumble and led to a turnover on downs.

    Later, Miller had a painful missed tackle on a tight end in the flat, allowing him to run for extra yardage. With a few minutes remaining, Miller dropped an would-be interception that hit him right in the hands. Luckily for him, he was bailed out by Utah quarterback Cameron Rising throwing a bad interception to clinch the upset win for Florida.

    Miller is a good college linebacker, but he neither fast nor fluid in coverage. Those things could be an issue in the passing-driven NFL. Hence, Miller might be more of a backup and rotational linebacker at the pro level.

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  • Quarterback Devin Leary lit up the scoreboard for N.C. State last year, breaking Philip Rivers single-season touchdown record. Leary completed 66 percent of his passes in 2021 for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and only five interceptions. To open the 2022 season, Leary was not as sharp, underwhelming versus East Carolina.

    Leary looked a little rusty to start in the first quarter, letting a few easy incompletions get away from him and putting the passes behind his receivers. Late in the same quarter, Leary started to find more of a groove, hitting a key conversion after looking off a safety and then finding a receiver in the slot to move into the red zone. Leary capped that drive by firing a fastball on a slant to Thayer Thomas for a 12-yard scoring strike.

    Throughout the second half, the Pirates defense did a nice job of keeping Leary from making any big throws downfield. Midway through the fourth quarter, Leary made a terrible decision, throwing to a blanketed receiver and putting the pass behind them. It was an easy interception that set the Pirates up inside the Wolfpack 30, and East Carolina turned that into a touchdown. Leary, however, was bailed out by the Pirates missing the extra point.

    On the next possession, Leary had an open receiver for a second-and-long conversion, but Leary overthrew him along the sideline, and that led to a punt that gave East Carolina the ball with around three minutes remaining. The Pirates missed a 41-yard field goal, letting Leary off the hook in what should have been a road loss. Leary completed 17-of-33 passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and one interceptions.

    Overall, this tape won't help Leary's NFL grade. His fourth-quarter interception was awful. Leary has a quality arm and throws well in the middle part of the field. In my preseason scouting report, I wrote about Leary: "Leary can be streaky with his accuracy and sometimes has issues throwing to the sideline in the short part of the field." That was the case once again in the 2022 opener versus East Carolina, as Leary had a number of passes off the mark when throwing to the sideline in the short part of the field and going vertically along the sideline.

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  • Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is one of the top prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft, and while he flashed special ability against Oregon, he did not have a huge statistical game. The Bulldogs didn't need him though, as they blew out the Ducks and Oregon's offense struggled to create first downs. In the second quarter, Carter tossed Oregon's right tackle to the ground to get a hit on the ball-carrier in the backfield and limit the run to a yard. Carter was overwhelming the Ducks blockers with speed and power prior to Georgia pulling its starters not long after halftime. SEC conference games should provide better opportunities to evaluate just how good Carter is.

  • One of the few starting defenders who returned to Georgia for 2022 was safety Christopher Smith, and he had a phenomenal start to the season versus Oregon. Early in the first quarter, Smith showed serious speed, flying downhill and taking down a ball=carrier in the backfield for a loss. Shortly later while playing deep zone, Smith read the eyes of Oregon quarterback Bo Nix to jump a route down the seam for an easy interception.

    Smith added another hard hit and open-field tackle when he was the last defender to prevent a huge gain. In the third quarter, Oregon had an open receiver for a long gain, but just after the pass arrived, Smith jarred it out with a huge hit on the receiver that sent him to the sideline with the trainers.

    Smith showed a lot of pro ability in this game. He made big plays as a deep free safety with an interception and multiple passes broken up. He also laid out hard hits and tackled very well. This tape will definitely help Smith's draft grade.

  • Georgia lost Zamir White and James Cook to the 2022 NFL Draft, but the Bulldogs have recruited a string of talented backs, and currrent starting running back Kenny McIntosh looks like he could easily end up being a better prospect than White or Cook. Midway through the first quarter, McIntosh ran for a short touchdown. Late in the second quarter, McIntosh ran a wheel route, fooling the defender to get open and then cruising for a 37-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal. In the third quarter, McIntosh caught a check down and darted downfield, spinning away from tacklers to get a gain of 25 yards.

    While McIntosh only rushed for 18 yards and a touchdown over five carries, he was Georgia's leading receiver, taking nine receptions for 117 yards. Against Oregon, McIntosh had the look of a three-down NFL starter and a future early-round pick.

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  • Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson is on the radar of NFL teams, and he was starting his season with a quality test versus Cincinnati. Midway through the first quarter, Jefferson had a good completion to the sideline, and on the next play, he ran in a touchdown from 15 yards out. It was a zone-read run, and Jefferson charged through an arm tackle to get the Razorbacks the lead.

    Shortly later, Jefferson took of an impressive run of about 15 yards, and he also made some nice throws to outlet receivers after scrambling. The Cincinnati defense was playing well, especially in the secondary, but to end the first half, Jefferson pulled a Tim Tebow when he threw a short jump pass for a touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Jefferson underthrew his pass a bit to allow his big receiver Jadon Haselwood to get open by adjusting with a leap to the inside that boxed out the small cornerback. Haselwood hauled in the pass for a 15-yard score.

    On Arkansas' next possession, however, Jefferson failed to gain control of a bad snap, and Cincinnati jumped on the loose ball to achieve possession inside the Arkansas 10. Later in the third quarter, Jefferson badly missed on a slant pass, putting it went behind the receiver on what would have been a 14-yard touchdown. Jefferson was limping after the play, and it looked like he was cramping. He also took a bad sack early in the fourth quarter, but made a nice completion while scrambling.

    After a strip-sack by the Razorbacks, Jefferson worked through his reads and hit a check down to tight end Trey Knox, who then raced down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown. With Cincinnati hanging in the game, Jefferson used his legs to run for a few first downs to help move the chains and run out the clock.

    Jefferson completed 18-of-26 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns against the Bearcats. In the ground game, he ran 18 times, collecting 62 yards and a score. Overall, Jefferson put together a strong 2022 opener, throwing the ball accurately, displaying field vision to work through progressions, making good decisions, and using his legs to help his line while churning out tough yards on the ground. This tape is going to help his draft grade.

  • Cincinnati quarterback Ben Bryant has some big shoes to fill after Desmond Ridder helped lead the Bearcats into the college football playoff last season. They narrowly lost this contest, but they easily could have won if Bryant had thrown more accurately. He was consistently overthrowing wide-open receivers who were streaking down the field for potential touchdowns. Bryant really hurt Cincinnati with his terrible inaccuracy.

    Midway through the first quarter, Bryant threw a bad pass to a well-covered receiver along the sideline and the cornerback undercut the route for an easy interception. Shortly later on a third down, Bryant had an easy touchdown throw from about 10 yards out along the sideline, but the pass was wildly off the mark. From there, the Bearcats missed the field goal. In the second quarter, Bryant had a receiver running wide open down the field for what could have been a 49-yard touchdown, but once again, Bryant was inaccurate, overthrowing the ball.

    After halftime, Bryant had a wide-open receiver standing all alone in the end zone, yet Bryant overshot what should have been a 20-yard touchdown. Bryant finally found some accuracy on the next drive, hitting a deep ball to an open receiver for a chunk completion. Bryant then hit a 36-yard touchdown strike, lofting the pass down the middle of the field to a wide-open target. On the next drive, Bryant had what should have been a 51-yard touchdown, but he underthrew the ball, which resulted in a completion but let the defense catch up to tackle the receiver. Bryant's inaccuracy cropped up again when he had a receiver running down the field for a 57-yard touchdown but overthrew him again. However to close out the drive, Bryant climbed the pocket and delivered a strike for a 15-yard touchdown.

    Bryant completed 26-of-43 passes against Arkansas for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He has some size and arm strength, but his accuracy has to improve dramatically for him to be a viable pro prospect.

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  • The top prospect in this Big Ten conference opener was Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., and Porter was very active to start the 2022 season. On the first drive, Porter was close to his receiver on a crossing route, but the catch was made for a first down before Porter made the immediate tackle. Later on the drive, Porter got away with a holding on a go route, but he let go in time to avoid being spotted for a penalty. On the next drive, Porter dropped an interception after making an excellent read to cut underneath a receiver, but Porter could not hang onto the throw and the receiver caught the deflection.

    Later in the first half, Porter helped to make up for the missed opportunity by pouncing on a fumble to get the Nittany Lions possession inside their own red zone. In the third quarter, Porter made a physical open-field tackle to bail out his defense in the shadow of the end zone. Later on the drive, Porter was flagged for a pass interference in the end zone because he was holding the receiver and had too much contact to avoid a penalty.

    In the fourth quarter, Porter had tight coverage on a slant route, and he played it perfectly to time a pass breakup. Porter came close to an interception a few plays later, but the receiver slapped the ball away to prevent the pick. Porter later broke up another pass on a slant.

    Overall, Porter had a good start to the season, recording eight tackles and three passes broken up. It should have been a prolific night with an interception to go along with the fumble recovery, but he also had a pass interference in the end zone.

    For the NFL, Porter would fit best as a zone corner or press-man corner. He has some stiffness and grabs too much, so playing off man could be an issue for him against pro receivers. Porter gets extra hype because of his father, but as a player, he might end up being more of a second-day prospect rather than a first-rounder. Porter could work out well, however, and that could create enough hype to push him into the opening night of the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell was on NFL teams' preseason watch list after a big statistical season in 2021. He had a solid 2022 opener, but he was not overly impressive taking on a talented Big Ten opponent.

    In the first half, O'Connell got away with what should have been an interception, but he was fortunate that Porter dropped the pass. In the second quarter, O'Connell had a receiver running wide open down the seam, but he failed to set his feet and the pass sailed incomplete. While O'Connell was pressured, an elite quarterback prospect would have completed that pass for a big play. O'Connell completed 30-of-59 passes for 365 yards and a touchdown. He was fortunate he did not throw some interceptions.

    O'Connell looks like a backup-caliber quarterback for the next level. He has a decent arm and can be a rhythm passer who works the short to intermediate part of the field. However, O'Connell does not look as accurate when pushing passes vertically and does not offer a true dual-threat ability. He has problems throwing when his feet aren't set and is not an ad lib quarterback who can make plays off script. O'Connell could end up being a mid-round pick who is a career backup.

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  • The top prospect in this game was Northwestern left tackle Peter Skoronski, and he was seeing some decent edge rushers for the college level in Nebraska linebacker Garrett Nelson and Nebraska defensive end Ochaun Mathis. Both of them were on NFL teams' preseason watch list, so they have some talent. Overall, Skoronski cruised over the Cornhuskers defenders, shutting them down and making it look easy.

    All game, Skoronski was rock solid in pass protection. He showed his athleticism to mirror speed rushes and used his strength to sustain blocks. In the ground game, Skoronski created a push and manipulated defenders.

    Late in the first half, Skoronosi fired off the ball to cause a surge that pushed back the defensive line to convert a fourth-and-1. In the third quarter, Nelson got a push with a bull rush, shoving Skoronski backward to get a pressure on the quarterback. On that play, Skoronski had some bend, but he didn't break and the quarterback still was able to get the ball out reasonably. Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats ran behind Skoronski inside the five and he pushed Nelson out of his gap to open up a lane for a short touchdown run.

    As a pass blocker, Skoronski can bend and is a smooth mover. He has quick feet and can play the typewriter, gliding with pass rushers to keep them from running the arc around him. Skoronski does not have good length, but he uses what he has well and is a smart tactician with how he engages defenders. Skoronski places his hands well and shows good technique to negate speed or power rushes.

    Skoronski is effective in the ground game and contributes well. He generates movement on defenders and shows the ability to push them or manipulate them through some advanced power. With his quickness and smooth moving ability, Skoronski is very good at firing to the second level to get to blocks on linebackers or move in space pulling around the line. While Skoronski can create a movement, he is a little finesse and does not look demonstrate a mean streak or violent mentality.

    Overall, this tape is going to help Skoronski. It will hurt the draft grades for Nelson and Mathis.

  • Other Weeks:

    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 1
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 2
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 3
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 4
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 5
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 6
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 7
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 8
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 9
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 10
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 11
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 12
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 13
    2023 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps - Week 14


    NFL Picks - Dec. 8

    2023 NFL Mock Draft - Dec. 7

    NFL Power Rankings - Dec. 6

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 7

    2022 NBA Mock Draft - June 23


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