2023 NFL Draft Stock – Conference Championships

This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2023 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

2023 NFL Draft Stock Up

Max Melton, CB, Rutgers
As we reported in the Hot Press, some team sources told WalterFootball.com they think Melton could end up as their highest-graded corner for the 2023 NFL Draft. They also feel he could have the best 2022 tape of any cornerback prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft. In 2022, Melton went under the radar because of playing for a bad Rutgers team that did not qualify for a bowl game. He totaled 33 tackles, two interceptions and nine passes broken up on the year.

Melton is listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, but NFL team sources say he might be more like 5-foot-11, 188 pounds. They note that Melton has excellent speed. He is super fast, which lets him shut down the deep part of the field. Receivers can’t outrun him, and he is a superb athlete who can mirror the route to prevent separation. Melton is a tough competitor and has a lot of upside. While Max Melton has not received a lot of media attention, he has caught fire in the scouting community. Some evaluators think he could be one of the top cornerback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft and has a shot at being the first one off the board.

McClendon Curtis, OT/G, Chattanooga
The NFL world was shocked when the Patriots selected Cole Strange in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as some franchises had Strange graded on Day 2 and others had him in the mid-rounds. Curtis may not go in the Round 1 like Strange, but he will keep the Chattanooga Mocs tradition of generating NFL draft picks alive. Curtis (6-6, 328) is a big lineman who could profile to guard as a pro. He earned a Senior Bowl invitation, so he has an opportunity to rise in Mobile.

Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State
Miller is a small-school player who played well enough to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl. In 2022, Miller has recorded 49 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and three passes defended. This is his first season of decent production in college football. Miller could rise with a strong week in Mobile.

Eke Leota, LB, Auburn
Leota did not produce a big senior year, just 17 tackles and two sacks, but he also only played in five games. In 2021, Leota recorded seven sacks, 23 tackles and a forced fumble. Leota’s 2022 season ended in early October due to an arm injury. The 6-foot-4, 257-pounder showed enough edge-rush ability over the past two seasons to earn his invitation to the Senior Bowl.

Darrell Luter Jr., CB, South Alabama
Luter is a small-school prospect who has a quality skill set and two seasons of solid production. After recording 27 tackles in 2020, Luter totaled 20 stops, four interceptions and nine passes defended in 2021. This season, he has 37 stops, an interception and five passes broken up. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has quality size and could end up being a solid mid-rounder from the 2023 NFL Draft.

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
Mingo put together a strong senior year and showed big improvement in production. He recorded 22 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns in 2021, and he jumped 48 catches for 808 yards and five scores in 2022. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Mingo has a strong build and is put together well for the NFL. He showed nice route-running and run-after-the catch skills this past season. Some sources feel Mingo could be a solid second-day pick who ends up becoming a starting X receiver.

Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
Things seemed to start for click for Rattler late in the 2022 season. That could be seen in how he led the Gamecocks to huge wins over Tennessee and Clemson. Over his final five games, Rattler threw 11 touchdowns to three interceptions, which demonstrated show improved ball security. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has a good arm and can really throw it. He also is a dangerous runner with athleticism. However, Rattler has thrown too many interceptions over the past three seasons and he should go back to school to improve, but it sounds like Rattler may enter the 2023 NFL Draft. If he does move on to the next level, Rattler could receive second-day consideration durin the 2023 NFL Draft.

2023 NFL Draft Stock Down

Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Brents was charged with taking on TCU’s Quentin Johnston (6-4) in the Big XII Championship. It was a big-versus-big, as Brents is a 6-foot-3 cornerback who moves pretty well for his size. Brents though had a rough outing despite his team coming away with the win. He was called for multiple pass-interference penalties for grabbing downfield, and he dropped an easy interception. The pass was thrown up for grabs like a punt, and Brents let the uncontested catch fall right through his hands. Brents did reel in an interception on an underthrown pass in the end zone. He also came back to break up a deep ball in coverage on Johnston late in the fourth quarter.

The Big XII Championship showed the good and bad with Brents. He has excellent size for matching up with big receivers, alongside length, some ball skills, and instincts. Brents, however, faces speed limitations that could make him more of a No. 2 or 3 corner in the pros, and that makes him a second-day prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Some in the media have pushed Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo as a high first-rounder for the 2023 NFL Draft, but many NFL teams have him graded on Day 2. His performance in the SEC Championship game suggested why the pros are not as high on Ringo.

Midway through the game, LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers torched Ringo on a deep post to get open for a 59-yard gain. Ringo was fortunate that Nabers fell down while making the catch, as he would have gone for an 80-yard touchdown. Later in the third quarter, Ringo lost track of the ball while in coverage in the end zone, so he just hugged the receiver and drew a pass interference.

In the fourth quarter, Ringo was slow to adjust to a receiver, who darted underneath him to put up a reception of about 30 yards. On the same drive, Nabers got open versus Ringo on a comeback route. To end that possession, Jaray Jenkins got behind Ringo and then cut across the field, and Ringo could not keep up with him, allowing a 33-yard touchdown.

Ringo has good size and straight-line speed, but he has major issues with stiffness, which leads to him giving up separation when receivers make cuts in their routes. For the NFL, Ringo looks limited to playing only as a press-man corner.

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12