Rival National Recruitment Analyst Clint Cosgrove Midwest looks at the possibility of being selected early in next year’s NFL Draft, examining Northwest’s strong start in 2023 class and identifying something other than the NIL that is negatively impacting college football.
1. Look at the beginning of next year’s Midwest Draft Class
Several draft gurus have already started speculating about the 2023 NFL draft, and it’s kind of fun to speculate about next year’s draft right after this year’s draft.
Here’s my vision of deserving players who have played their high school ball in the Midwest and have a chance to be named early in the 2023 NFL Draft. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Brocker was highly athletic and had the incredible reverse of coming out of high school, but as an underclassman he was a bit younger. That being said, between his junior year in high school and the new year in college, Broker has made great physical gains and has not looked back since.
He has certainly surpassed his rankings and has a very good chance of being drafted in the first two rounds of next year’s draft.
Ekiyor was great in Alabama and his red shirt has contributed to Tide’s star-studded offensive line since the freshman season. He has since started 29 games for Alabama and earned second-team All-American honors this past season.
Ekiyor flirted with the draft this past season but chose to stay for his fourth year which will probably improve his draft stock. When he leaves this year, his ranking as a 156th prospect in the 2018 class would probably be comparable to his draft position, but with an extra year of development, he could surpass his higher rankings.
Harrison made an immediate impact in Ohio State and has already maintained his five-star status as a two-time All-Big-Ten player. Harrison is the third-ranked strong defensive end out of high school in the 2019 class and the 23rd overall possibility.
Although he is not locked into a top-25 pick, Harrison has a good chance of becoming a first-rounder and he still lives up to his billing.
Johnson had a special talent frame and athleticism from his new year in high school. Although he was ranked as a 6.0 four-star and had a No. 2 prospect in his position out of high school, Johnson probably did better and better than our project.
But, as things stand now, it looks like his rating was quite spot on as the country’s No. 42 prospect. He has a chance to advance to the first round, but looking back and considering his positional value as a high school prospect, he seems to be at the ranking point.
Johnson comes from a great lineage because his father was a former college standout and also in the NFL. Johnson Jr. adheres to his billing as a five-star prospect who was the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 21 overall prospect in the 2020 class.
Johnson has played inside Ohio State’s offensive line but will likely play at the edge this coming season. He has a great chance to pick a first-round draft pick and start a left tackle in the NFL in the following years.
I was a huge fan Willpower McDonald’s Coming out of high school, but had questions about how much weight his frame could hold. One thing we knew he had the ability to go behind the pass. This is a feature that has certainly translated into the college level.
Only two offers came from McDonald’s high school, one from New Mexico and one from Iowa State where he became an All-American, breaking the school sack record twice.
McDonald has been able to add a lot of weight to his frame, but there are still questions about whether his frame will be able to handle three down play in the NFL. McDonald’s has definitely surpassed his rankings and will have a chance to claim his top spot in next year’s draft.
Skoronsky was a special player from an early age and his high school coach vowed to be the best offensive lineman in the state until he becomes a senior. Skoronsky was a little younger at the beginning of his high school career, but by the time he was a senior he had already developed into an animal. He also has NFL descent as his grandfather played for the Green Bay Packers.
Skoronsky has an immediate impact on the Northwest and could be the top internal offensive lineman in the 2023 draft.
2. Northwest could end up with a top-20 class
I mentioned the Northwest as a team that might surprise, but not the main team to keep an eye on in last week’s Big Ten prediction article. Let’s just say that Wildcats has become a big drag team since that feature was released. After a big official visit weekend, Wildcats have taken four new commitments and with a total of 10 commitments, they have risen to 14th overall in the 2023 Recruitment Rankings.
While I acknowledge that the 10 promises are one of the reasons why the Northwest class is so high right now, at the same time they are not just promises. Pat Fitzgerald Combined an early class with some players who could play ball. The Wildcats are made up of a four-star player from Class Edge Rasha’s Michael Kilben who is committed to Sunday, but they also took a commitment from top three-star Tyler Gant this weekend. Before this race of promise, Dylan Senda, the country’s No. 2 ranked center in the Northwest, already had another high three-star. In addition, Wildcats has a number of promises, such as Nigel Glover, that could get a ranking bump when our next ranking is published.
This is also not a flash for the Northwest, as the Wildcats are a legitimate competitor for many high-ranking possibilities to fill this category. Four-star Adepoju Adebawore, a potential five-star candidate who has an older brother who currently plays for the Northwest, sees nothing more than this as an example of North-Western player qualification.
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3. There is so much more to see in NCAA than zero
Yes, NIL is in front of everyone’s mind. Players, coaches, diehard fans and casual spectators alike have all been dialed into NIL and how its evolution is affecting college football. Most, but not all, people agree that players should be able to benefit from their names, images and similes, just as colleges have done for decades.
But, like any new yard where money has to be made, we are witnessing an almost completely uncontrolled phase of NIL. While I have some concerns about where this is going, I also believe that, like any market, things will settle down in time and NIL will work on its own. Some players will pan out and be eligible to invest, while many more will not pan out.
My biggest concern is the rules of communication control between players and coaches. How do we live in a recruiting world where a prospect can be awarded a scholarship before going to high school, but not even the slightest interaction with a coach when they are on the road during the spring assessment? Underclassman recruitment?
In many cases these trainers have been communicating with prospects through legal loopholes for years. It creates zero knowledge and puts high school players, high school coaches and college coaches in an awkward, illegal and often unavoidable situation. We all know that coaches talk to underclassmen on the streets during the spring. Trainers who have “illegal” contact with prospects when they are on the road, often traveling thousands of miles to see the potential, are placed in a position where they have no choice but to contact the recruiter against a rule that seems to be just a rule. Stay in place
College instructors who follow the rules of the NCAA Act to the best of their ability are often punished in the end. High school prospects don’t know well when they talk to the other 10 instructors who come through their school during the week, only those instructors who avoid contact with them seem to lack interest. This can make the recruiter feel light-headed and want to move on from the school that the rule-following coach represents.
Please use common sense NCAA, because at the moment when coaches are on the road the rules of personal communication only set everyone up for failure.