Prior to the kickoff of the 2022 college football season, we came up with a Way-Too-Early 2023 Dynasty Mock Draft. Now, with the season in our rearview, it’s time for a fresh update on this draft class. By now, we know which players are returning to school, hitting the transfer portal, or entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
We’ll provide you with another update prior to and after the NFL Draft, but here is our 2023 first-round dynasty rookie mock draft, based on a 12-team SuperFlex league.
1.01: RB, BIJAN ROBINSON (TEXAS)
In our NCAA preseason edition, we ranked Bijan Robinson behind the two top quarterbacks. But, after CJ Stroud and Bryce Young presented some question marks during their final seasons, Robinson is the no-brainer 1.01 — even in SuperFlex drafts. The now-former Longhorn is the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley and although he may not possess Barkley’s elite athleticism (or quads), Robinson is the better pure running back.
Standing at 6 feet, 220 lbs, Robinson is a lab-created NFL three-down workhorse who can truly do it all. He has ideal size, mixed with elite vision, patience, acceleration, and power. Not to mention, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and is a plus-pass protector. Robinson can anchor your dynasty team for years to come. Ultimately, he’s worth the tank job to get him at the 1.01.
2022 stats: 1,580 rush yds, 18 TD, 6.1 ypc; 19 rec, 314 yds, 2 TD
1.02: QB, CJ STROUD (Ohio State)
As an avid Ohio State football fan who watched every single one of CJ Stroud’s snaps, some could say sliding the Buckeye quarterback in at the 1.02 shows a little bias. But, it’s actually the opposite. Stroud had big shoes to fill after Justin Fields and while he put up big-time stats and was named a Heisman finalist twice, there was always something missing from him. He put up stats in marquee games, but he finished 0-2 vs Michigan and did not win a playoff game during his two years as a starter.
Stroud can truly make any throw on the football field, yet he mostly relied on his arm talent instead of using his legs to move the chains. Buckeye fans grew tired of Stroud’s lack of “it” factor and were counting down the days for him to leave Columbus. Then, he squared off against the nation’s best defense in the College Football Playoff and orchestrated a master class.
Not only did Stroud slice up the Georgia defense through the air to the tune of 348 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, but he showed off his legs for the first time in his career. He rushed for 34 yards, including a 27-yard scamper to set up the game-winning field goal attempt. All-in-all, Stroud dropped his nuts in the Sugar Bowl and proved he has the makeup to be a baller in the NFL.
I prefer Stroud over Bryce Young because he has the size and durability advantage over the Alabama signal caller. Stroud stands at 6’3, 205 and broke out as a redshirt freshman when he tossed 44 touchdowns to only six interceptions. Some will knock Stroud because he had a loaded wide receiver room to throw to, but he has elite accuracy at all three levels and throws a pretty deep ball. He also engineered Ryan Day’s offense to perfection and consistently scanned through his options.
It appears Stroud unlocked his full potential against Georgia and I think that will boost his confidence, making him the class’ top fantasy quarterback.
2022 stats: 3,688 yds, 41 TD, 6 INT, 67.6%; 108 rush yds
1.03: QB, BRYCE YOUNG (ALABAMA)
Bryce Young is a smidge behind Stroud as the top dynasty quarterback. While Young proved his potential throughout his illustrious career at Alabama, his size is a major question mark. We’ll get his official height at weight at the combine, but Young will likely check in below 6 feet tall, which should scare away fantasy owners.
The success of Drew Brees helped small quarterbacks, highlighted by Kyler Murray. Yet, Murray has had an array of injuries and tends to fade as the hits add up and the season progresses. This past season, Young braced himself for a tackle and injured his throwing shoulder, knocking him out for a game and a half, and he definitely looked off at times throughout the season as he recovered.
Outside of the size issue, Young is a certified killer. He extends plays with his legs and is supremely accurate at all three levels. He also possesses the “it” factor that I thought Stroud lacked throughout his career and is a true gamer. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a fantasy beast. But, I can’t get over the size concerns for Bryce, which is why I’m taking Stroud over him before we see his true measurables at the combine.
2022 stats: 3,328 yds, 32 TD, 5 INT, 64.5%; 185 rush yds, 4 TD
1.04: RB, JAHMYR GIBBS (ALABAMA)
Alvin Kamara and Deebo Samuel comps get thrown around to any talented runner who can catch the football. Yet, Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs actually fits the mold of those two NFL All-Pros. With speed to burn, jaw-dropping acceleration, plus-vision, and a truly elite pass-catching profile, Gibbs is a complete running back who will dominate half-PPR and full-PPR leagues.
Prior to Stroud and Young’s bowl games, I had Gibbs ahead of both quarterbacks. However, after the two quarterbacks answered some questions, I moved Gibbs down to 1.04. He will be a very solid consolation prize after the top three come off the board in SuperFlex leagues.
2022 stats: 926 rush yds, 7 TD, 6.1 ypc; 44 rec, 444 yds, 3 TD
1.05: WR, JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA (OHIO STATE)
For Ohio State fans and college football fans in general, JSN had one of the most disappointing and frustrating final seasons. No, he didn’t opt out of his final season like Ja’Marr Chase, but Smith-Njigba suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1 against Notre Dame and he failed to fully recover after tweaking it in two separate comeback attempts. While the hamstring injury will be a concern for some, JSN missed out on a season’s worth of hits, which should only extend his career.
If you happened to forget what JSN brings to the table, he’s an elite route-runner and chain-mover who led the 2021 Buckeyes in receptions and receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns. Yep, he was the best statistical receiver on a team that featured both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
Not a big deal.
He’s not known as a burner or a physical beast like Quentin Johnston or Kayshon Boutte, but he proved he can shine in a loaded receiver room and performed his best during his team’s biggest games. He’ll man a team’s slot for a long, long time while routinely catching 100-plus balls.
Plus, how could you sleep on a receiver who was developed by the great Brian Hartline?
2021 stats: 95 rec, 1,606 rec yds, 9 TD
1.06: WR, QUENTIN JOHNSTON (TCU)
Quentin Johnston lived up to the preseason hype, leading his TCU Horned Frogs to the College Football National Championship Game. Johnston is an alpha receiver specimen, checking in at 6’4, 210 lbs with elite size, speed, and acceleration.
Albeit a little too quiet against Georgia, the same secondary that was torched by Kayshon Boutte and Marvin Harrison Jr., Johnston lit up Michigan in the College Football Playoff to the tune of 6-136-1 and Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game with four catches for 139 yards.
Johnston is not an elite separator like JSN or Jordan Addison, but he is in the AJ Green and Tee Higgins mold of receivers who use elite physical attributes to destroy defenses. Johnston will be the first receiver off the NFL Draft board and should be a YAC and red zone menace in the NFL.
2022 stats: 60 rec, 1,069 yds, 6 TD
1.07: WR, JORDAN ADDISON (USC)
Jordan Addison and Kenny Pickett formed a lethal duo at Pitt, with the former grabbing the 2021 Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top wide receiver and the latter getting selected in the first round by the Steelers. But, with Pickett off to the NFL, Addison shook the college football when he transferred to USC to play with Caleb Williams under Lincoln Riley.
While he had a “down” season on the west coast, Addison got to play with the Heisman Trophy winner and learned more under Riley. His size leaves more to be desired (6’0, 175 lbs), but he makes up for it with his elite route running on all three levels, his reliable hands, and his YAC ability.
Addison will be a top-25 pick in the draft, meaning his draft capital gives him a solid chance to be a day-one starter in the NFL. Although his size will be questioned, he can beat press-man coverage with his savviness. Expect the reliable wideout to play both the slot and the Z for his next team.
2022 stats: 59 rec, 875 yds, 8 TD
1.08: QB, WILL LEVIS (KENTUCKY)
There are always one or two quarterbacks with measurables that are off the charts and get over-drafted due to Josh Allen upside. This draft has two of these quarterbacks in Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Standing at 6’3″, 232 lbs with a rocket arm, clean mechanics, and dual-threat ability. Levis can frankly make every throw on the football field and is arguably the most talented thrower in the class.
However, he does have some question marks. He threw 43 touchdowns to 23 interceptions during his two seasons at Kentucky after transferring from Penn State. Like most gunslingers, he is a bit reckless with his arm strength and is prone to turning the ball over. He also didn’t show consistent patience when going through his progressions.
Still, the talent is there and he could flourish with the right coaching staff and surrounding talent. Levis’ likely top-12 draft capital could be a negative though, with his landing spot meaning a ton to his future dynasty success.
2022 stats: 2,406 yds, 19 TD, 10 INT, 65.4%
1.09: WR, KAYSHON BOUTTE (LSU)
Kayshon Boutte seems to have it all. He profiles as a potential NFL WR1 with his route running, theatrics after the catch, and contested catches. However, he never had a true breakout season even though he was on pace as a sophomore until a season-ending ankle injury. He never eclipsed 48 receptions or 735 yards in a season even in his 11 games under Brian Kelly and solid quarterback play.
Even with questionable production, he has Ja’Marr Chase–esque athleticism (20.87 200-meter that ranked top three nationally in high school) that’ll make scouts drool during the combine. Hailing from Chase’s alma mater, Boutte broke the SEC record for receiving yards in a game with 308 — as a freshman.
Boutte was set to return to LSU until he was rumored to have engaged in a WILD sex party with multiple members of the LSU football program and was subsequently kicked off the team. Although another season would’ve helped Boutte, he’s ready to make plays on the next level and will be a high-upside dynasty asset.
2022 stats: 48 rec, 538 yds, 2 TD
1.10: RB, ZACH EVANS (OLE MISS)
Zach Evans exited high school as the nation’s consensus No. 2 RB behind Bijan Robinson and after a rocky start to his career at TCU, Evans transferred to Lane Kiffen’s Ole Miss Rebels for his final season. Evans had a career year, racking up 936 rushing yards (6.5 ypc) and 10 total touchdowns on 156 touches. Evans is a physical back who will make an immediate early-down impact in the NFL, but he currently lacks the receiving skill set to be a third-down contributor right away.
On the plus side, he was underutilized compared to the other top backs in this class and only had one season with over 100 carries. He also drips in athleticism and has elite vision which allows him to utilize his deadly speed and power combination on opposing defenses. Evans will be a solid fantasy starter for a long time.
2022 stats: 936 yds, 9 TD, 6.5 ypc; 12 rec, 119 yds, 1 TD
1.11: WR, JOSH DOWNS (UNC)
After three seasons at Chapel Hill, Josh Downs finished with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and 22 career touchdown catches. Downs has a size issue (5’10, 171 lbs), but you can’t teach speed. The former Tar Heel expects to run in the 4.3s at the NFL Combine and his speed pops on tape. He gets off the line of scrimmage with ease and leaves defenders in the dust. Surprisingly, he has an above-average catch radius and comes down with his fair share of jump balls in congested areas.
While his size could hinder him against press-man coverage in the league, he should thrive in the slot and he will make plays after the catch. If you’re not familiar with Downs’ game, think of this class’ Jahan Dotson.
2022 stats: 94 rec, 1,029 yds, 11 TD
1.12: RB, ZACH CHARBONNET (UCLA)
It was between Zach Charbonnet, Sean Tucker, Zay Flowers, and Michael Mayer for the final pick of the first round, but I gave the edge to Charbonnet, who made his 2022 debut on our mock draft series after being left out of the first edition.
The former Michigan Wolverine and UCLA Bruin racked up nearly 1,700 total yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, proving he could be a three-down workhorse. Some say Charbonnet is a pure power back, but at 6’1″ and 222 lbs with pass-catching skills, he proved to be more than just a plodder after catching 61 passes over the last two seasons for Chip Kelly’s Bruins.
As noted, Charbonnet possesses a powerful three-down stature, along with plus vision and balance. He should also test well and has impressive straight-line speed for his size. Charbonnet has the skill set to be a day-one starter in the league who has the ability to play all three downs if needed. Being a senior, Charbonnet will provide instant results for those picking at the end of the first round.
The former Bruin is a more talented Tyler Allgeier or a bigger Elijah Mitchell.
2022 stats: 1,359, 14 TD, 7.0 ypc; 37 rec, 321 yds
OTHERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:
RB Kendre Miller (TCU), RB Sean Tucker (Syracuse), RB Tank Bigsby (Auburn), RB Devon Achane (TAMU), RB Kenny McIntosh (Georgia), WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee), WR Rashee Rice (SMU), WR Zay Flowers (Boston College), WR Marvin Mims (Oklahoma), WR Cedric Tillman (Tennessee), QB Anthony Richardson (Florida), TE Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)