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SNS Mailbag - April 26, 2023

It's Draft Day Eve! Just over 24 hours away from the 2023 NFL Draft!

Will Anderson or Jalen Carter and why? Also, pro comps for both.

Anderson (SNS #1 prospect) and Carter (#3) are both potential generational talents. Each has an ideal combination of size, length, and athleticism and are primed to become immediate difference makers at the next level. Anderson is a powerful Edge Rusher who excels at making tackles in the backfield and who has enough agility to play off the ball LB, as well. Carter has a rare combination of elite size, strength, length, and burst to redefine IDL play in the NFL. Anderson is a clean prospect with ideal measurements, athleticism, and character. Carter, unfortunately, was involved in a street racing incident that led to the death of two Georgia team members last January and his character and maturity are still in question.

The SNS comp for Anderson is Khalil Mack (Chargers), who like Anderson, is a power rusher with excellent length and college production. Carter has no real comp in today’s NFL. He has a freakish skill set on a large frame. So, hop into the Way Back Machine and take a trip to late 1970’s Dallas – Carter’s comp is “The Manster” Randy White. White was a matchup nightmare in the interior defensive line ("half man, half monster"), combining length, power, and quickness to push the pocket and pressure the QB. If Carter shows the maturity and work ethic, he could be a very special talent, much like the Manster.

Comp for Bijan Robinson and how high does he go on Thursday?

Robinson is the most complete RB to enter the draft in years and is the rare Top 10-worthy back (SNS #4 ranked prospect), much like his comp – Saquon Barkley. But to be more precise, Robinson is more like a mix of Barkley with Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson - RBs with good size, burst, power, hands, and pass blocking ability that are worthy of a high draft pick.

Robinson’s range is from Detroit at #6 to Cincinnati at #28 with the most likely teams to select Robinson being Detroit at #18, Chargers at #21, Minnesota at #23, and Dallas at #26. All in all, as many as three RBs might go in the first round on Thursday, led by the talented Longhorn.

Where does Richardson get drafted? Could you see the Raiders or Falcons picking him if he slides out of the Top 5? Is there any conceivable way that he falls past the Titans at #11? Which teams are most likely to trade ahead of the Titans to select Richardson if he falls out of the Top 8 picks?

The 2023 NFL Draft is going to be wild and unpredictable with very few “sure” things, prospects rising and falling down draft boards as the draft nears, and surprising trades that will cause the draft to shock us all starting on Thursday. Richardson is the most divisive prospect in the draft with rare tools, size, and arm strength. But he has only 13 career starts and went 6-6 in his only season as a starter in Gainesville. His immense upside is tantalizing and he could be selected as high as #2 (if Houston trades out), #3 (if Arizona trades out), #4 (Indianapolis), #5 (Seattle), or fall as far #23 (Minnesota) on Thursday. Neither the Raiders nor the Falcons have an immediate need for a starting QB but each team has to consider drafting such a unique and special talent. It is hard to foresee Richardson falling beyond Tennessee at #11 so the Bears and Eagles will be open for business at #9 and #10, respectively for anyone wanting Richardson before the Titans are on the clock. Possible trade partners in this scenario include Washington, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Minnesota.

Thoughts on Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman from Tennessee and pro comps for them?

Entering the 2022 season, Tillman was one of the best WRs in the nation and a preseason first round draft projection. Hyatt, entering this last season, was a relative unknown. After this past season, things have shifted a bit. Tillman missed significant time in 2022 with an ankle injury while Hyatt won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best WR which included a historic performance in Tennessee’s upset victory over Alabama last October, scoring 5 TDs against the Tide. Hyatt, who has similar size and skill set to Philadelphia’s Devonta Smith, has game breaking speed and agility and can beat practically any CB deep. Tillman has very good size, reliable hands, and the toughness to excel over the middle of the field. Tillman grades out as a quality possession receiver and his game is similar to DJ Chark (Carolina). Hyatt should be drafted NLT round 3 and Tillman looks like a mid-round pick (5th round) this weekend.

Sleeper WR in the 3rd or 4th round?

The depth of this year’s WR class is most evident in the number of quality mid-round WRs available in this year’s draft. Tank Dell (Houston), Rashee Rice (SMU), Xavier Hutchinson (Iowa State), Puka Nacua (BYU), and Jalen Wayne (South Alabama) are all potential starting outside or slot receivers at the next level and should be drafted by midday Saturday. But the WR that will be focused on here is Jayden Reed (Michigan State), who is not only a dangerous receiver with the ball in the open field, but is an explosive punt returner who has the speed to take any punt back for a TD. Reed has plenty of experience, soft hands, and great agility to create mismatches out of the slot. Expect Reed to go somewhere between the late 2nd and early 4th rounds this weekend.

What is it about Will Levis that makes him the favorite to go # 2? Why is that? Is anybody buying it? How high will he go on Thursday? Thoughts on Levis as a prospect.

--Tim Cornwell

One of the things that happens during the draft process, especially in a draft that is so fluid at the top, is that rumors begin to emerge, grow, and spread. It appears that Will Levis’ stock is rising while CJ Stroud’s stock is falling. Levis is rising, at least in part, due to many pundits thinking that Levis is another Josh Allen. Similar to Allen, Levis has a huge frame with superb arm strength. Although Levis is a good athlete, he is not the tough, hard-nosed player that Allen is and doesn’t display the moxie and grit that Allen demonstrates on a weekly basis. Levis struggles in a crowded pocket and he tends to gets flustered by pressure in his face. Levis is also moving up draft boards as Stroud’s stock plummets and each prospect’s fate seem related to the other. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out on Thursday during the draft.

Additional Draft Thoughts

Will the 6-game suspension received by Detroit Lions WR Jameson Williams impact the Lions’ draft strategy this weekend?

The short answer, no. The Lions were likely to draft a WR with at least one of the nine picks the team has in this weekend’s draft and Williams’ status is unlikely to change their draft plans. The Lions need to focus on improving their defense, especially early in the draft. The Lions have 5 of the first 81 picks in this draft and need to fortify the DTs, LBs, and CBs with at least 3 of those picks. GM Brad Holmes values speed, athleticism, and length in his draft picks and values toughness and character as core values above all else. Expect Holmes to stick to the plan in the Motor City.

Stetson Bennett (QB / Georgia) may go undrafted this weekend. Why is the Heisman finalist free falling as the draft approaches?

The two-time National Championship game MVP is one of the best college QBs in recent memory. He possesses great mental processing and field vision and is as ready as any QB in this draft to handle the speed of the NFL game. However, he lacks size and arm strength desired by NFL teams and is an over-aged prospect (he’ll be 26 in October) with little perceived upside to develop. His greatest assets are his production, leadership, and competitiveness he displayed during his career in Athens. But those qualities have been brought into question by scouts due to poor interview performances and a perceived arrogant, know-it-all attitude that grates on teammates and coaches. To put it another way, Bennett’s greatest asset – his intangibles – are proving to be his Achilles heel as the draft approaches.

Stay tuned – things are about to get interesting!

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