More than 100 underclassmen chose to submit their names for the 2023 NFL Draft ahead of the entry deadline, which expired Monday. While players have until Thursday to remove their names before the official roster is announced on Friday, the statements give us a chance to look into the future of many top programs.
Eight of the top 10 players in CBS Sports’ 2023 NFL Draft Prospect rankings are early entry candidates, with the top two coming from the same school: Alabama. College football is a sport in flux, but an unexpected loss of production can ultimately spark hopes of a national championship.
Here are 10 programs that were hardest hit by the early entries to the 2023 NFL Draft, including three out of four college football playoff draftees and starting with a Sugar Bowl full of defectors.
As college football’s best NFL factory, Alabama will always be at the top of these lists. Still, even by Crimson Tide standards, the Class 2023 packs a punch. Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young and National Defensive Player of the Year Will Anderson represent one of the best pairings Nick Saban has ever had on a single team, as both expect to be the top 3 picks. Safety Brian Branch and running back Jahmyr Gibbs also made important contributions. Mixing the losses with the completions of starters like Emil Ekiyor, Henry To’oTo’o and Jordan Battle makes this one of the biggest churns of talent of the Saban era.
The Wildcats only lost two underclassmen in the NFL Draft, but both were crucial to the program. Running back Deuce Vaughn ranks behind Darren Sproles for most career rushing yards, lapping nearly 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns in just three seasons. Defensive End Felix Anudike-Uzomah has a career-high 20-plus sacks and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year during the Wildcats’ Big 12 title campaign. Replacing both players will be a difficult task.
The final superstars of the Brent Venables defensive line era are out the door as defensive linemen Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee joined senior KJ Henry in the NFL draft. The trio have combined career 79 tackles for loss and 40 sacks, leaving Dabo Swinney with massive holes to fill at the edge rusher. Linebacker Trenton Simpson is also a potential first-round pick.
The loss of quarterback CJ Stroud and two beginning offensive linemen — Paris Johnson Jr. and Luke Wypler — hurts. The Buckeyes also lose senior tackle Dawand Jones. However, Ohio State was forced to adjust early to life without Jaxon Smith-Njigba due to a lower body injury, leaving the program better prepared than most to move away from an All-America caliber player. Replacing a quarterback is never easy, but Ryan Day has solid options.
After losing All-Americans Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison in 2021, the Panthers produced more All-Americans in defensive tackle Calijah Kancey and ran back to Israel Abanikanda in 2022. Perhaps the most dynamic central defender in the country, Kancey was a finalist for the Outland Trophy. Safety Brandon Hill was also a major contributor.
Probably the three best players from Notre Dame have left for the NFL Draft until 2022 after a strong final. Tight end Michael Mayer is a first-round contender and star-to-be, while edge rusher Isaiah Foskey and Northwestern safety transfer Brandon Joseph have long NFL careers ahead of them. Expect a youth movement next season with a wave of talented recruiting classes coming of age.
Only two Trojans were drafted early, but both made extreme differences. Receiver Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore in Pitt before moving to Los Angeles. Defensive end Tuli Tuipulotu went from mediocre recruit to unanimous All-American during a legendary career. Both are irreplaceable, but Lincoln Riley has a team full of talent able to fill in the gaps.
The biggest losses for TCU are seniors: QB Max Duggan, OL Steve Avila, WRs Taye Barber and Derius Davis, CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson. However, first-round wide receiver Quentin Johnston and running back Kendre Miller were All-America contenders, adding an explosive component to the Horned Frogs and swinging several games in the team’s favor. TCU has no way of replacing these parts and will likely look at the transfer portal.
The national champions will always lose key talent, but the Bulldogs have done relatively well compared to previous champions. Defensemen Jalen Carter and Kelee Ringo are the highlights, while linemen Warren McClendon and Broderick Jones made solid contributions. The loss of tight end Darnell Washington will be felt, but the return of Brock Bowers certainly helps. The Bulldogs have enough underclassmen returning that 2023 should still be a national championship year.
To call running back Devon Achane the core of Texas A&M’s offense is an understatement. In a 38-23 upset over LSU, Achane had 215 of Texas A&M’s 429 yards and two touchdowns. When Achane missed an SEC game against Auburn, the Aggies accumulated 10 points overall. Adding top defenders Antonio Johnson and Jaylon Jones to the list only makes matters worse.