The 2022 NFL draft just ended, but it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2023 NFL draft.
The Pac-12 had quite a few players go in the first round, including Kayvon Thibodeaux and Drake London in the top 10.
The 2023 Pac-12 class is full of talent once again, and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News gave his top 10 players from the conference. USC has a player in that elite group, and just to be clear, it’s not Caleb Williams, since the sophomore figures to be in Los Angeles for the 2023 season, not just 2022. Let’s take a look at the best of the West in this early assessment of the 2023 draft.
ARIZONA STATE DL JERMAYNE LOLE
The Sun Devils defensive lineman drops in at No. 10 on this list, and while he is technically in the transfer portal, Wilner reveals why he drops in at this spot:
Lole is currently in the transfer portal but has indicated a willingness to return to ASU given the right offer for name, image and likeness opportunities. At 300-plus pounds, and assuming good health, he would be one of the top linemen in the league.
STANFORD CB KYU BLUE KELLY
A Stanford player on this list? Yes, indeed, and here’s why:
The second-team all-conference pick has the size (6-foot-1), length and ball skills to be an early-round selection… But as with many cornerbacks, Kelly’s 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine will help shape his draft destination.
USC DT TULI TUIPULOTU
It is time for Tuli Tuipulotu to shine, and with new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch in town, he is due for a breakout season in 2022.
Not sure Tuipulotu has the initial burst needed to become a pure edge rusher in the NFL, but his size (290 pounds) and mobility make him a valuable option along the line. Has the potential to be a Day One selection.
OREGON DE BRANDON DORLUS
Kayvon Thibodeaux was a top-five choice in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Brandon Dorlus will have a good shot of being a first-round selection in 2023 as well.
Like Tuipulotu, the 280-pound Dorlus could land anywhere from the first round to the middle rounds, depending on in-season performance and in draft workouts.
UTAH DB CLARK PHILLIPS III
Devin Lloyd went in the first round in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Utah has another stellar defensive player around with cornerback Clark Phillips III.
Our pick as the No. 1 cornerback in the conference — the other option is Stanford’s Kelly — Phillips has been as good as advertised since arriving in Salt Lake City as one of the top recruits in program history
WASHINGTON STATE QB CAMERON WARD
There is a new era around the Washington State program, and former Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward has a ton of people buzzing with his potential.
Ward has the arm and the legs required to become high-round selection, especially with the league’s acceptance of Air Raid quarterbacks. As one scout noted after watching film: “He made me say ‘Wow’ five times in about 20 minutes. He can work in an NFL system.”
WASHINGTON OL JAXSON KIRKLAND
Somehow, Washington breeds first-round draft picks, and the 2023 Huskies — led by new head coach Kalen DeBoer — have Jaxson Kirkland as a top player after he decided to return for one more collegiate season.
A two-time, first-team all-conference selection, Kirkland will receive first-round consideration if he avoids performance regression and serious injury
STANFORD QB TANNER MCKEE
The 2023 QB class is loaded with Bryce Young and CJ Stroud on top. However, Stanford QB Tanner McKee has a ton of talent and is one of the best players in the entire conference.
The best pure passer in the conference since Stanford’s Davis Mills in 2020, the 6-foot-6 McKee has the pocket skills necessary to become a Day One pick
OREGON LB NOAH SEWELL
Penei Sewell was a first-rounder choice in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Noah Sewell is a lock to be a first-rounder in 2023 if everything goes as planned.
Sewell is also one of — if not the best — players in the entire Pac-12 next season.
WASHINGTON DE ZION TUPUOLA-FETUI
Another high draft choice for the Huskies, and Tupuola–Fetui drops in at No. 1 1 on this list. According to Wilner, it is an easy decision when the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around.
‘ZTF’ led the nation in sacks per game (1.75) in the shortened 2020 season, and perhaps no skill is more coveted on Day One of the draft than the ability to rush the passer.