With both the college and professional football worlds gearing up for the 2023 season, it’s the perfect time to look ahead. Fans might be tired of mock drafts after a deluge of them from January through the end of April, but they’re a good tool for looking at both potential draft prospects and teams’ needs.
Also, draft season never truly ends.
Matt Miller released a new early 2023 mock draft for ESPN (subscription required) on Tuesday. Miller says of his draft:
What fun is all that summer prep without some predictions? And for me, there’s nothing better than a mock draft to evaluate team needs, player value and get a look at which position groups are strong and weak in the early stages of the 2023 NFL draft process.
Below is my first crack at projecting the top 32 picks, an extremely early evaluation based on 2021 tape, expected progression from prospects and expected NFL team needs.
He also notes that his draft order is based on ESPN’s Football Power Index.
We’ve already seen a few mock drafts send a quarterback to the New York Giants, and Miller agrees that quarterback is a likely need for the Giants, though he goes in a different direction.
10. New York Giants
Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami*
The new Giants regime didn’t draft Daniel Jones in the top 10 in 2019 and declined his fifth-year option, which means he’s likely in his final season in New York. That puts the Giants back in the quarterback market.
The 6-foot-4 Van Dyke flashed in nine starts last season (25 touchdown passes, six interceptions), and he could be even better in 2022 because of the staff and roster new coach Mario Cristobal has assembled. Van Dyke has the arm strength and mobility to become a star.
Another mock draft, another quarterback for the Giants, though it’s nice to be talking about a quarterback other than Will Levis. If these (ridiculously) early mock drafts are anything to go on, Giants fans should probably make themselves aware of the top QB prospects during this year’s college season.
Fully half of Miller’s first 10 picks are quarterbacks, which leads us to a few conclusions.
The first being that the 2023 QB class is projected to be a much stronger than the 2022 class. Just the presence of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud make this a better class, but if the likes of Levis, Jaren Hall, Tyler Van Dyke, or Spencer Rattler play up to their potential, we could this kind of run on quarterbacks. One of the more interesting storylines to follow over the course of the 2022 college season will be which of the collegiate quarterbacks
The second is that, at least right now, there are a lot of teams that could (or will) be in the market for quarterbacks come April’s draft. This is how Miller’s Top 10 shook out:
- New York Jets - Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE, Alabama)
- Chicago Bears - Jaxson Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
- Houston Texans - Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Eli Ricks (CB, Alabama)
- Atlanta Falcons - C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
- Pittsburgh Steelers - Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)
- Carolina Panthers - Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
- Detroit Lions - Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
- Seattle Seahawks - Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
- New York Giants - Tyler Van Dyke (QB, Miami)
Miller notes that each of the top three teams in his draft order could be in the quarterback market as well. That said, If the draft order were to shake out like this, I would absolutely expect the Jets and Bears to auction off their picks for a haul of draft capital. Both teams just spent high picks on highly-regarded quarterbacks last year and would be ill-advised to move on this quickly.
On the flip side of that coin, we can’t expect Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll, and Mike Kafka to tie their careers and the next four or five years of the franchise to someone else’s player if he doesn’t give definitive proof that he can carry the team to a title. If the Giants are drafting in the top 10, I would expect them to be one of the teams trying to negotiate a trade up. If Daniel Jones isn’t “The Guy,” the Giants need to do whatever is necessary to get “The Guy.”
Van Dyke certainly has the tools to propel himself into the conversation as a top QB prospect. He has the size some teams demand, plenty of arm strength, surprising touch for a strong-armed passer, and “enough” athleticism. This series of tweets from Cam Mellor offers a good selection of passes from Van Dyke:
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (FL) –— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) May 2, 2022
A lot of short stuff in his debut against CCSU, and his best throw of a 10-completion, 3-TD, 270-yard day was the lone incompletion. pic.twitter.com/dYHTrzR6xD
He flashed to me when I was watching Charleston Rambo’s tape for his scouting report, and I think he definitely has the potential to climb draft boards. It’s too early to say where he’ll land, but the tools and potential are there.