2023 NFL Draft: College Game Recaps - Week 5



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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  • Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is in the running to be one of the top signal-callers and prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, but this tape will hurt him with pro evaluators. While Levis was decent as a passer, he had three crushing mistakes that cost the Wildcats a road win at Ole Miss.

    In the first quarter, Levis took a sack after holding onto the ball too long, and that set the tone for the game. He came back to have a good gain on a pass to the outside that allowed his receiver to get a rip off yards after the completion.

    Early in the second quarter, Levis made an ugly mistake due to failing to feel the pocket collapsing and holding the ball way too long while throwing out of his end zone. Levis threw the ball to the flat to avoid a sack, but it was an obvious intentional grounding that resulted in a safety. It was third-and-long, and nothing was open, but Levis should have thrown the pass away rather than gifting Ole Miss a safety and good field position on the free kick that turned into a field goal. On the play, Levis dislocated a finger while taking the unnecessary tackle and that added to the banged-up ankle he was already playing through.

    In the second quarter, Levis threw a dart to convert a critical third down. He then capped the drive with a little shovel pass that went for a five-yard touchdown. Early in the third quarter, Levis found a tight end in a window on an in route, and that target scored from 17 yards out.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Levis was running with the ball and fumbled it away after taking a hard hit. However, the Kentucky defense came through with a stop and got Levis the ball back with under two minutes. He hit a 50-yard pass play on a wide receiver screen to get to the 10-yard line. On the next play, Levis did not wait long enough for his teammates to get set, and that penalty canceled out a game-winning touchdown pass. On the following play, however, Levis once again held the ball too long with the rush closing in, and this time he was strip-sacked. Ole Miss recovered the loose ball to clinch the win. If Levis had thrown it away, he would have had one more chance at the end zone and then could have settled for a short field goal to force overtime. Levis finished completing 18-of-24 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

    Levis is probably a future starter for the NFL. He has a powerful arm, good size, can throw accurately, and has some running ability. However, Levis definitely has things he needs to work on. He is prone to holding the ball too long, and that makes things hard on his offensive line while also exposing him to unnecessary hits. Levis has had problems with interceptions as well, and he showed progress in that regard versus the Rebels, but the safety and two fumbles were painful mistakes that had a critical impact on the outcome of the game. Levis gifted points to Ole Miss and took points away from Kentucky.

    Levis is known to have great intangibles, so that will help coaches who want to work with him. There is no doubt that for the pro level, Levis will need to improve his ball security and mental clock in the pocket to get the ball out. His impressive skill set and fatal flaws are reminiscent of Jameis Winston or Jay Cutler. Levis looks like a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but he is a project for the next level.


  • Scouts who have been through Ole Miss this season have raved about the talent of running back Zach Evans, and he showed why against Kentucky. Evans put up some nice runs in the first quarter, showing speed and power, including a short touchdown run on which he rolled through a tackler at the goal line. Evans finised with nine carries for 24 yards and a touchdown, but he was playing with an injury and Lane Kiffin seemed to decide to save Evans and lean on another talented back in Quinshon Judkins.

    Evans has a first-round skill set, but he might end up being a second-round pick given the NFL's reduced emphasis on taking running backs during the opening night of the NFL drafts.


  • Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. is a second-day talent for the 2023 NFL Draft, and he was making his season debut after being suspended for the month of September due to a DUI arrest earlier in the year.

    Rodriguez started the game well, running power downhill going through contact and showing good balance to keep his feet after being tripped. At the end of the opening period, Rodriguez charged up the middle of the Ole Miss defense to score from 10 yards out. In the second quarter, Rodriguez caught a screen, and he showed his power to break a tackle from a defensive lineman to rip off a 15-yard gain. Rodriguez also was effective on some screens. He took 19 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. He also made three receptions for 40 yards.

    Rodriguez is a physical downhill runner who powers through tacklers with a strong build and enough quickness to hit the hole. Helped by phenomenal contact balance, Rodriguez keeps his feet and is able to pick up a lot of yards after contact. In the 2023 NFL Draft, Rodriguez looks like a second- or third-round pick.





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  • Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was dominating Arkansas before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. The nature and extent of Young's shoulder injury was unclear. It could be labrum damage, a torn rotator cuff, a dislocated shoulder, or even just a simple strain that won't keep him out any longer. If Young is out for significant time, or even misses the rest of the season, it should not prevent him from being a high first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. A scarier hip injury did not keep Tua Tagovailoa from ending up as a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Sam Bradford went No. 1 overall in 2010 coming off a serious shoulder injury. Young dominated college football in 2021 and has played well in 2022.

    Young was rocking Arkansas prior to the injury. On his first attempt of the game, he made a beautiful throw on a corner post for a gain of about 40 yards. However to end the drive, Young had some bad luck. He threw a good pass on a slant, but the receiver tipped the ball up with his hand and a Razorbacks defensive back had it fall into his arms for an interception.

    On the next drive, Arkansas was not so lucky because Young hit wide receiver Kobe Prentice on a slant, and Prentice exploded down the field for a 47-yard touchdown. On the next possession, Young stepped up in the pocket and lofted in a bomb to Isaiah Bond for a 53-yard gain. Young then ran the ball into the end zone from eight yards out for the score.

    It was early in the second quarter when Young suffered the shoulder injury. As he ran toward the sideline and was being tackled, Young tossed the ball away, but he landed hard on his throwing shoulder. Young was in a lot of pain and left the game. After halftime, he was on the sideline with his helmet on but did not go back on the field. Young completed 7-of-13 passes against the Razorbacks for 173 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for another score.

    For the NFL, Young is a future starter and franchise quarterback. His game is a mix of Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson. Young is a running threat while being an accurate passer who can hurt defenses at every level. To go along with his arm and legs, Young is an instinctive passer who has good feel. He leads his receivers for big gains after the catch with superb ball placement. In the 2023 NFL Draft, Young looks like a future top-10 pick, and he could end up as the No. 1 quarterback even if he is out for the season.


  • Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson could join Young in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but this was a mixed outing for Jefferson. In the first half, Jefferson was not finding great running lanes and looked out of sorts as a passer. Jefferson was feeling the rush and seemed rattled. At one point, he had a receiver open to convert a third-and-9 and sailed the pass incomplete. Jefferson did not seem to be seeing the field well and looked like he was dropping his eyes to watch the rush rather than reading the defense and working through his progressions.

    Jefferson also was hurt by numerous dropped passes, including a third-and-8 that his receiver dropped, and on the next drive, Jefferson had a well-thrown deep ball fall through the hands of his receivers. Late in the first half, Jefferson moved the ball on a 2-minute drive, and he had a nice play to move the linebacker with a pump fake and then throw behind him for a short touchdown, but Jefferson had only 52 yards passing at intermission.

    Early in the third quarter, Jefferson opened up a receiver with a pump fake and then hit a slant to lead a wideout for a 36-yard gain. He also made a good check down while being tackled to help set up a short rushing touchdown. After a successful onside kick, Jefferson made a superb play to climb the pocket on a third-and-6 and then lofted in a completion for a clutch conversion. He used his size to push the pile for another first-down conversion, but Alabama started hounding Jefferson on runs and in the pocket. Versus the Crimson Tide, Jefferson completed 13-of-24 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 38 yards on 17 carries as well.

    Overall, this tape won't hurt or help Jefferson significantly. He threw some accurate passes and ran well, but he was not overly impressive versus the Crimson Tide. For the NFL, Jefferson needs to improve his field vision, reading coverage, and working through progressions. There were a lot of times where it looked like Jefferson was not seeing the field well. He seems more comfortable throwing to the sideline and seems to hesitate with what he is sees in the middle of the field. With his field-vision issues, Jefferson probably needs to sit and have some developmental time in the pros. But he looks like a potential future starter due to his arm strength, athleticism, size, and playmaking ability.


  • Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson is the favorite to be the first non-quarterback selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and he had a quality performance against Arkansas. Anderson got his day started with a quality tackle in run support and also pressured Jefferson into a sack. In the second quarter, Anderson darted by his blocker to help get in on a sack of Jefferson. Overall, this tape won't hurt or help Anderson significantly, and his high status should remain unchanged.


  • Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs showed why he will be a NFL starter against Arkansas. In the early going, Gibbs ran well, showing his shifty cutting skills and slashing ability. Gibbs was running well and contributing in the passing game before breaking the game wide open. Early in the fourth quarter, Gibbs took a run around the right side and found a gaping cutback lane to explode down the field for a 72-yard touchdown.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, Gibbs did it again, taking a run off the left tackle and exploding down the field for a 76-yard touchdown, going virtually untouched. Gibbs took just 18 carries against Arkansas, but amassed 206 yards and two touchdowns. He also made two receptions for 20 yards.

    For the NFL, Gibbs looks like a future three-down starter. He is put together well with a serious burst to accelerate to the second level. On top of his speed, Gibbs is a tough runner who shows excellent cutting ability to weave through the defense. Gibbs is a good receiver and will be an asset in the passing game. He looks like a future high pick for the 2023 NFL Draft.




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  • Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy had an impressive game against N.C. State, consistently getting the better of N.C. State's offensive tackles. In the first half. Murphy regularly drove upfield and pressured the quarterback. He funneled Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary out of the pocket on a few plays and helped disrupt the timing of the passing attack.

    Across the final two quarters. Murphy helped take over the game and slam the door on N.C. State. In the third quarter, Murphy burned the left tackle with a speed rush to get a sack that led to a punt. Murphy did it again early in the fourth quarter, going around the right tackle with a speed rush. On other plays, Murphy came close to sacks while getting pressure on the quarterback.

    For the NFL, Murphy has the skill set of a top-10 pick. He is big, fast, strong, and extremely athletic. Murphy can do whatever he wants in terms of dominating a tight end, setting the edge against tackles in the ground game, burning tackles with speed rushes around the corner, and making highlight-reel sacks. What he seems to lack is a killer instinct or the mentality to dominate. Murphy seems to toy with offensive tackles rather than just dominate them. It looks as if he needs to be motivated by his coaches to really get going and lacks a bit of the junkyard-dog attitude. Still, Murphy is extremely talented and has all the tools to be a high first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.


  • Leary battled against the Tigers, but he was in a tough spot taking on their talented defense. The N.C. State offensive line really struggled to protect Leary, plus he had many receivers let him down with passes bouncing off their hands.

    In the first quarter, Leary threw a perfect strike that lacing the pass between defenders while awaiting a big hit from the defensive end bearing down on him. Later on the drive, Leary lofted in a beauty along the sideline, dropping it in between defenders. The drive settled for a field goal, but Leary came back to throw a short touchdown pass off of a play action just before halftime.

    The wheels came off for N.C. State in the second half, and Leary had some mistakes mixed in with bad luck. Late in the third quarter, Leary had a passing lane interrupted by a leaping defender, and the pass went off the hands of the wide receiver and was intercepted by the Tigers. In the fourth quarter, Leary fumbled a shotgun snap that Clemson recovered. In garbage time, Leary scored a rushing touchdown, but for the majority of the second half, N.C. State struggled to sustain drives. Leary finished completing 28-of-47 passes for 245 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

    Leary looks like a mid-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft who could be a quality backup and has low-end starter potential.


  • Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has shown big improvement in 2022 over his play last year. That continued against N.C. State. While Uiagalelei did not dominate, he played well enough to guide his team to a win and avoided turnovers while completing 21-of-30 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for two additional scores.

    Uiagalelei came through with just enough clutch plays to support his superb defense. Just before halftime, Uiagalelei fired a laser between two defenders for a 27-yard pass to the one-yard line. In the third quarter, Uiagalelei showed his athleticism with a big run of 38 yards. He finished that drive by lofting in a nice touchdown pass to back of the end zone. Uiagalelei capped two of Clemson's possessions with short touchdown runs.

    While Uiagalelei still needs work developing as a pocket passer for the NFL, he is improving and trending in the right direction. Going back to Clemson in 2023 and continuing to build for the 2024 NFL Draft could be the best move for his development as a football player and pro prospect.







  • 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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