Justin Melo’s Big Board 1.0

The 2023 Senior Bowl will announce its arrival next week. I’ve spent various months scouting the prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Stacking a big board is a fluid exercise. I’ve reached a point where I feel comfortable presenting my initial Top 50 Big Board to our readers. The picture isn’t complete. I’ll continue scouting hundreds of prospects. This board will eventually expand to feature at least 150 prospects. The Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine will reveal additional information that is useful to the scouting process.

I present my Top 50. I’ll answer questions at @JustinM_NFL. I’ve included brief explanations on surprise inclusions. I’m thoroughly enjoying the scouting process.

1. Will Anderson Jr. | EDGE | Alabama

2. Jalen Carter | DT | Georgia

3. Bijan Robinson | RB | Texas

4. Bryce Young | QB | Alabama

Bryce Young is my QB1 despite the size concerns. I’m not convinced he’ll be the first quarterback drafted, but I believe he’s the most overall impressive quarterback in this class. Young isn’t a transcendent talent like Trevor Lawrence was, but he possesses franchise quarterback capabilities.

5. Myles Murphy | EDGE | Clemson

6. Michael Mayer | TE | Notre Dame

7. C.J. Stroud | QB | Ohio State

8. Christian Gonzalez | CB | Oregon

9. Peter Skoronski | OL | Northwestern

10. Tyree Wilson | EDGE | Texas Tech

11. Paris Johnson Jr. | OT | Ohio State

12. Joey Porter Jr. | CB | Penn State

13. Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia

14. Will Levis | QB | Kentucky

15. Bryan Bresee | DT | Clemson

16. Brian Branch | S | Alabama

17. Jaxon Smith-Njigba | WR | Ohio State

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is my WR1 despite recording four receptions in three appearances throughout the 2022 campaign. People are going to overcomplicate Smith-Njigba’s evaluation. He was the clear-cut go-to receiver on a team with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, both of which already look like excellent NFL receivers.

18. Cam Smith | CB | South Carolina

19. Jordan Addison | WR | USC

20. Dawand Jones | OT | Ohio State

I’m probably higher on Dawand Jones than most. Jones may not be a first-round selection. I believe he should be. Jones is a 350-pound easy mover that projects as an immediate starting tight tackle. Those types are extremely rare.

21. Quentin Johnston | WR | TCU

22. Devon Witherspoon | CB | Illinois

I have questions whether or not Devon Witherspoon could play the boundary on a full-time basis in the NFL. When I discussed playing the nickel position with Witherspoon a few months ago, he admitted that may be a legitimate possibility. Witherspoon’s 2022 tape is extremely clean. He’s a sticky, competitive man-coverage cornerback.

23. Jahmyr Gibbs | RB | Alabama

24. Lukas Van Ness | DL | Iowa

Lukas Van Ness is an excellent football player. He’s tough, nasty and physical. Van Ness carries some inside-outside versatility. I don’t think he’s a double-digit sack artist on an annual basis, but he’ll be a consistent performer that plays with terrific effort.

25. Anthony Richardson | QB | Florida

26. Clark Phillips III | CB | Utah

27. Rashee Rice | WR | SMU

28. Kelee Ringo | CB | Georgia

29. Josh Downs | WR | North Carolina

Josh Downs plays bigger than his size indicates (5-foot-11, 171 pounds). There will be minor size limitations, but Downs is a dynamic playmaker with high-level route running abilities. Downs will create advantageous matchups for an NFL offense. Downs possesses eye-popping capabilities.

30. Deonte Banks | CB | Maryland

Banks is a physical, 6-foot-1, 200 pound cornerback with terrific reactionary athleticism for a corner of his size and stature. Banks is a sticky press-man cornerback that recorded 8 pass breakups in 2022. Banks is a borderline first-round prospect.

31. Jalin Hyatt | WR | Tennessee

32. Darnell Washington | TE | Georgia

33. Derick Hall | EDGE | Auburn

34. Chris Smith | S | Georgia

Chris Smith is one of my favorite defensive back prospects. He’s a multi-year captain for the back-to-back National Championship Georgia Bulldogs. Smith is a matchup safety that can wear multiple hats for a pro defense. Smith has one of the highest football I.Q.’s of any prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft.

35. Luke Musgrave | TE | Oregon State

The Luke Musgrave buzz is real. Musgrave is a highly athletic 6-foot-6, 250 pound locomotive running up the seam. Mobile will provide Musgrave with a terrific environment to display his game-changing skill set.

36. Nolan Smith | EDGE | Georgia

37. Anton Harrison | OT | Oklahoma

38. Dalton Kincaid | TE | Utah

39. Jordan Battle | S | Alabama

40. Tuli Tuipulotu | DL | USC

41. Kayshon Boutte | WR | LSU

42. Trenton Simpson | LB | Clemson

43. Felix Anudike-Uzomah | EDGE | Kansas State

44. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson | CB | TCU

45. Cody Mauch | OG | North Dakota State

Cody Mauch was a dominant offensive tackle at North Dakota State. Mauch may play guard at the next level. Mauch can confirm his top-64 status with a strong showing in Mobile.

46. Keion White | DL | Georgia Tech

I loved watching Keion White at Georgia Tech. White played an outstanding game against Georgia and Broderick Jones. White is an incredibly easy mover for a man of his size (6-foot-4, 275-plus pounds). White has exciting inside-outside versatility.

47. Drew Sanders | LB | Arkansas

48. Emmanuel Forbes | CB | Mississippi State

49. Tucker Kraft | TE | South Dakota State

50. Will McDonald IV | EDGE | Iowa State

Will McDonald possesses some freaky measurables. His sack production dipped in 2022 after Iowa State asked him to reduce inside with more frequency. McDonald was still productive, and his 2021 tape reveals a prospect that could make a full-time living at EDGE.

Author: Justin MeloSenior Writer, Interviewer and Podcaster for Broadway Sports covering the Tennessee Titans and NFL draft. For more than five years, Justin Melo has professionally covered all things NFL draft and Titans for The Draft Network, SB Nation and USA Today. Best known for his Interview Series with NFL draft prospects, Justin has interviewed more than 500 NFL players. Co-host of the Music City Audible podcast alongside Justin Graver (@titansfilmroom).

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