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NFL Draft
NFL Draft

NFL Draft 2023: 13 Pro Day Standouts You Need To Know

  • Ryan Fowler
  • March 27, 2023
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With the 2023 NFL Draft about a month away, the Pro Day circuit has seen a long list of athletes raise eyebrows and their draft stock on league-wide boards. While there remains a long list of headlining athletes still to showcase at their individual events, here is a list of rising names to know that have begun to create buzz within NFL circles. 

Kaleb Hayes CB, BYU

An extremely twitchy athlete with the ideal athletic profile to compete on the perimeter right away, he ran 4.31 and jumped 40 inches in the vert to cap off what has been a fantastic pre-draft process. A standout at the NFLPA Bowl, Hayes could be a steal for a team later in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

London Harris LB, Texas State

Physical, athletic, and smooth in coverage, Harris checked off all the intangible boxes at his Pro Day and his length at the second level (33-inch arms) will give opposing pass-catchers fits. He could become a special teams ace from day one. 

Griffin Hebert TE, Louisiana Tech

A former wide receiver, Hebert bulked up to 240 pounds to make the position switch but hasn’t lost any of his explosiveness that usually comes when asked to bulk. He ran in the mid-4.5s at his Pro Day, jumped nearly 40 inches in the vert to showcase the quick twitch in his lower half, and will be a nice addition to a team that likes to deploy multiple-tight-end sets. Turn on his tape against Missouri and watch him outrun the entire Tigers secondary.

Ben VanSumeren LB, Michigan State

It remains to be seen if VanSumeren stays at LB, but his elite athletic profile will allow him to wear a multitude of hats on Sundays if asked to. Fine-tuning is needed from a football perspective, but from strictly a testing standpoint, there may not be a prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft class that had a better individual showcase.

Jake Witt OT, Northern Michigan

A standout on the hardwood turned tight end, turned tackle, Witt has been one of the best stories in the pre-draft process. A big man at 6-foot-7, he lit up his Pro Day with numbers matched by few to enter the draft in the last handful of seasons at OT. He has since had a top-30 visit with the Denver Broncos.

Reid Nickerson EDGE, Yale

Nickerson didn’t blow scouts away with his testing, but watching him work in positional drills showcased a flat-out football player that could provide fresh legs to an edge rotation. The Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, and New York Jets (among others) have all expressed interest in the former Ivy League standout.

Christian Izien SAF, Rutgers

Izien is an uber-physical defender whose alignment versatility will offer a team an athlete that doesn’t just wear multiple hats, but wears them well. He fits the modern game. While he primarily lived in the slot and inside the box in 2022, there may not be an athlete this spring that has more experience at the line of scrimmage, second level, and at the ceiling—he amassed more than 150 career snaps as a wide-nine rusher, 770 in the box, nearly 1,000 at free safety, and 809 at nickel. You can throw him in anywhere and expect him to produce. While some defenders have a hard time finding their true niche on Sundays after roaming free at the college level, Izien’s technique and athletic profile highlight an athlete that will provide a jolt to any secondary he joins.

Justin McGriff WR, Utah State

A vertically imposing pass-catcher at 6-foot-4, he could provide a team with a guy that lives above the rim in the red zone right away. Scouts have discussed a potential move to tight end down the line, but McGriff’s hands, catch radius, and ability to win the leverage battle against smaller corners have made him an enticing name to follow.

Jordan Howden CB, Minnesota

A standout at the Shrine Bowl, get to know Howden’s name now. Howden is excellent when asked to flip his hips in coverage, physical and sudden when reading his keys in the run, and will immediately boost any secondary. He’s a riser in the draft class.

Johnny Buchanan LB, Delaware 

The Blue Hens haven’t had a LB drafted in its program’s history, but Buchanan is making his case to be the first. A dominant presence in the CAA for a multitude of years, Buchanan’s blend of explosiveness and strength (40-inch vert and 22 reps on the bench) fit the modern mold of a second-level defender.

Mitchell Tinsley WR, Penn State

One of my favorite sleepers in the class, Tinsley can flat-out get after it on the outside. A transfer from Western Kentucky to Happy Valley, he was WR2 for the Nittany Lions offense and has since raised his stock this winter. He was uncoverable at the NFLPA Bowl, then went to Shrine and was the best wideout in attendance as well. He won’t blow anyone away with his athletic intangibles, but he’s an uber-crafty pass-catcher that understands how to create separation and contort his body in the air.

Garett Maag WR, North Dakota

A big man that moves awfully well for his stature, Maag has been a fun study the last few months. His frame will present a tough cover over the intermediate areas of the offense and he’s someone whose attention to detail shows up in his willingness to block. His comfortability in the air and agility in tight confines provides a nice platform as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.

Darrius Bratton CB, UVA

The standout of the Cavaliers’ Pro Day, Bratton stole the show with a 4.44 40, 38-inch vertical, and 11-foot-3 broad jump that would have ranked tied for third among all participants at the NFL Combine. An alignment versatile talent at 6-foot, 183 pounds, he has experience playing on the outside, at nickel, and in the box.

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Ryan Fowler