Scheme fit… it often goes overlooked in the pre-draft process. While the “potential’ of an NFL draft prospect often overshadows the limitations of a player when thrown into unfamiliar surroundings, matching skill set with scheme often rids of a few hiccups for rookies in year one. Here are a few of my favorite player-to-scheme fits in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs – Philadelphia Eagles
A match made in heaven, there is a high likelihood that this happens come draft day. Gibbs is a dynamic three-down talent. Kenneth Gainwell will remain in the third-down role this fall, allowing Gibbs to take hold of the bellcow workload for the Eagles. Slotting in Gibbs after losing Miles Sanders simply isn’t fair.
TE Dalton Kincaid – Washington Commanders
Another weapon for Sam Howell, there may not be a player in the 2023 NFL Draft class (WR/TE/RB) that has better hands than the former Ute. A Venus flytrap in space, Kincaid fits the mold of a modern-day Y/F flex weapon that can dominate the intermediate areas of an offense.
We know how important the TE position is within Eric Bieniemy’s offense, and I’m not sure the trio of Logan Thomas, John Bates, and Cole Turner move the needle. 2022 UDFA Armani Rogers remains the most athletic of the group and an upgrade in the form of Kincaid could see the burgundy and gold progress into one of the more exciting young offenses in the league.
CB Deonte Banks – Baltimore Ravens
An elite athlete, Banks on the opposite side of Marlon Humphrey could present a case of ‘pick your poison’ for opposing offenses. Touting the size and length to stymie ‘X’ wideouts, Banks would be CB1a for a Baltimore defense that needs playmakers on the perimeter.
LB Drew Sanders – Seattle Seahawks
An athlete that fills a need both as a dynamic pass-rusher and as a linebacker in space, I love the versatility that Sanders offers in that ‘spinner’ role that Uchenna Nwosu can play a little as well. Adding another fresh set of legs within the front seven that wears a variety of hats is good process.
OL Cody Mauch – New England Patriots
A versatile mauler along the front five, Mauch can play tackle, guard, and has a nastiness to his game that’ll fit the way the Patriots like to do things in the ground game. The level of competition will be an adjustment at the hoof, but I expect him to play for a long time whether he lands in Foxboro or not.
CB Cam Smith – Jacksonville Jaguars
A flat-out DOG on the outside, I love the way Smith plays the game. He’s a little grabby at times, but it’s a minor fix, and I love the fit of him opposite of Tyson Campbell. More bodies are needed within a Jaguars secondary that has to improve if they want to compete with the elites of the conference.
DB Brian Branch – Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh has a need at both corner and safety, so why not get a player that can do both in the 2023 NFL Draft? One of my favorite defenders in the class, Branch wins pre-snap, where his ability to diagnose concepts was consistently on display for the Crimson Tide. Patrick Peterson was added in free agency but talk to me in a few years when Branch becomes one of the premier defenders in the league due to his versatility.
LB Trenton Simpson – New York Giants
An elite athlete at the second level, he fits both the mold of a linebacker in 2023 and what exactly DC Wink Martindale wants to do within the lungs of his defense. He can attack in the run, flip and run in coverage, and is an above-average blitzer with outstanding instincts to boot.
RB Tyjae Spears – New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ entire front office brass was in attendance to watch him run at his Pro Day, and aligning his game with Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams in the boot would be fun to watch. Spears’ game-breaking ability would present a unique chess piece to a unit that could progress into the top offense in the division.
CB DJ Turner – Detroit Lions
A corner that plays with the physicality of a safety, Turner checks off the intangible boxes that Dan Campbell desires. A smooth mover in both man and zone, he’s also a 4.2 guy in the 40.
OT Matthew Bergeron – Buffalo Bills
An experienced tackle on either side of the line, Bergeron would provide fresh legs to a front five in need of them. While the interior could remain a focus, the jury remains out on Spencer Brown entering year three at RT and he could challenge LT Dion Dawkins for snaps as well. OL coach Aaron Kromer was present at his Pro Day.
CB Joey Porter Jr. – Chicago Bears
The Bears made their presence known at the Nittany Lions’ pro day with Porter as the main attraction in State College. A prospect with an immensely high ceiling, working opposite of Kyler Gordon could showcase one of the more exciting young corner tandems in the league. It was simply too easy at times for him at Penn State and I expect him to have a heck of an NFL career.
CB Emmanuel Forbes – Dallas Cowboys
Dallas loves their ballhawks and there isn’t a corner close to Forbes in that area of evaluation. A perimeter stalwart that just so happens to tout the hands and ball skills of a wideout, Forbes will get knocked for his rail-thin frame at 165 pounds, but he’s uber smooth in coverage, and, despite his lack of mass, isn’t afraid to attack against the run. Winning the turnover margin often pedestals teams to win games, and Forbes will become a nightmare to target from day one.
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