D.J. Graham, Antonio Johnson paved the way

Following an extremely deep 2022 NFL Draft defensive again group, the 2023 class has so much to stay as much as. Who’re some 2023 NFL Draft breakout candidates at defensive again who may assist the 2023 class stay as much as its predecessor?

2023 NFL Draft breakout candidates: DB

In reality, there are dozens of defensive backs who may get away in the course of the 2022 marketing campaign and add to the energy of the 2023 NFL Draft. However to be selective, let’s single out 5 defensive backs who’ve notably robust probabilities to emerge as high playmakers on the faculty soccer stage.

Antonio Johnson, DB, Texas A&M

Texas A&M had two draft-worthy safeties in 2021 with the duo of Demani Richardson and Leon O’Neal Jr. Nonetheless, the most effective prospect within the Aggies’ secondary, by far, may find yourself being Antonio Johnson.

Johnson is among the most fun returning gamers in faculty soccer. He has some hype already, however with one other leap just like the one he took in 2021, he can dwarf his present expectations.

Johnson is 6’3″, 200 kilos, however primarily operates out of the slot for the Aggies. That function served him nicely in 2021, as he amassed 79 tackles, 8½ tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, and 5 passes defensed. Johnson’s mixture of size and elite athleticism serves him nicely. However he’s additionally a wise defender and a relentless communicator who exhibits nice zone consciousness and a willingness to come back downhill and implement in run protection.

Mekhi Garner, CB, LSU

Derek Stingley Jr. and Cordale Flott entered the 2022 NFL Draft. Eli Ricks transferred to Alabama. For LSU, there’s an enormous void at cornerback — a spot that’s historically full of NFL-level expertise. The state of affairs is unsure, however the alternative can also be ripe for the taking for a participant like Mekhi Garner, who transferred over from Louisiana.

Garner could also be coming from the Solar Belt, however he definitely appears the a part of an NFL prospect. Listed at 6’2″, 212 kilos, Garner has wonderful size and a powerful body, which holds up nicely involved conditions. Opinions have been overwhelmingly constructive from LSU’s camp, setting the stage for what might be Garner’s ascent into the early rounds.

Garner could also be a well-kept secret on the nationwide stage, however he was a daily playmaker on the defensive facet of the ball for the Ragin’ Cajuns. By means of 2020 and 2021 mixed, he accrued three picks and 15 move deflections. Garner is explosive and twitched up for his dimension, and his ball manufacturing emphasizes his proactivity on the catch level.

Sheridan Jones, CB, Clemson

With Andrew Sales space Jr. and Mario Goodrich leaving, the Clemson cornerback room will want a brand new high canine. Sheridan Jones is well the main candidate, and it’s a task that would vault him into the higher echelon of the 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class.

Jones, now a senior, is among the oldest members of Clemson’s cornerback room. He additionally occurs to be some of the naturally gifted defensive backs the Tigers have. Jones was the 108th-ranked recruit within the 2019 class, with affords from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Ohio State. He’s all the time had the expertise. He’s gained the expertise over time. And now, he has the chance to emerge.

Jones does nonetheless have some refinement left to endure. He may stand to reply faster to breaks at instances, and he may be overly bodily when matching receivers. However Jones is an explosive athlete with good size who effortlessly sinks his hips on path modifications. It’s early, however he might be the following cornerback out of the Clemson pipeline.

D.J. Graham, CB, Oklahoma

Brent Venables’ scheme at Clemson was recognized for producing high quality NFL defensive backs. Now, Venables is the pinnacle coach at Oklahoma, and he introduced a number of high quality defensive coaches with him. It stands to purpose that extra expertise in Oklahoma’s secondary may now be unearthed — together with that of cornerback D.J. Graham.

Graham has flashed brightly in his time at Oklahoma, however he hasn’t all the time been constant. The 6’0″, 193-pound defender has the size and athleticism to be an NFL-caliber participant. However so far, there’s nonetheless a way that he hasn’t reached his peak. Venables may be capable of unlock the following degree for him.

At his peak, Graham might be a particular participant. He can refine his method and effectivity of movement, however his explosive athleticism is obvious on tape. He’s sudden out of his stance, closes floor immediately, and might carry receivers upfield. And on the catch level, Graham could also be top-of-the-line within the 2023 NFL Draft together with his acrobatic potential and ball abilities.

Jarvis Brownlee Jr., CB, Louisville

Florida State has a quietly gifted secondary. Jammie Robinson is a stud, and Travis Jay is one other under-the-radar breakout candidate. However the Seminoles might be with out Jarvis Brownlee Jr., who transferred to Louisville forward of the 2022 marketing campaign. Brownlee will be part of a Cardinals defensive backfield that features Kei’Trel Clark, Chandler Jones, and Kenderick Duncan.

Brownlee doesn’t fairly have the dimensions others can boast, however there’s a purpose he had extra enjoying time in 2021 than prospects like Jay. Brownlee is a bit lighter and lacks elite size, however he greater than makes up for it together with his amped-up athleticism and playstyle. Brownlee has extremely quick toes on the line. Along with his quickness and sudden mobility, he’s sticky in protection, and he’s not afraid to impose his physicality, both. He’s assertive in press and might match receivers extraordinarily nicely together with his fleet-footed method.

Brownlee can nonetheless be a bit extra constant together with his timing, and his missing size will get the higher of him in tight conditions. However he has instruments that ought to translate to elevated manufacturing, and his traits additionally translate to the following degree.

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