Sunday, August 14, 2022

Best 2023 NFL Draft prospects to transfer this offseason: Jordan Addison, two SEC running backs make list

College football rosters are turning over now more than ever thanks to the transfer portal. Coaches are able to fill voids on their respective rosters with players from all levels. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis and Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, now with the Detroit Lions, were just a few of the transfers who made an impact last year. 

Here are the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects, in alphabetical order, who found a new home this offseason:

WR Jordan Addison, USC

Addison was the most high-profile relocation this off-season. Rumors of his potential transfer and the financial opportunities available surfaced before he even announced that he was entering the transfer portal. After weighing the possibility of staying at Pittsburgh versus transferring to Texas or USC, he elected to join Lincoln Riley’s Trojans. 

The Biletnikoff Award winner — given to college football‘s best wide receiver — played a huge role in the rise of Kenny Pickett’s draft prospects. He amassed 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021 for Pitt. The Maryland native does a good job setting up his breaks and is elusive with the ball in space. Many believe that his talents warrant first-round consideration.

He joins Oklahoma quarterback transfer Caleb Williams and Oklahoma wide receiver transfer Mario Williams — neither of whom are eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft — in southern California. 

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WR Jacob Cowing, Arizona

Addison is not the only talented pass catcher joining the Pac-12. Texas-El Paso’s Cowing transferred to Arizona. He is a thin-framed wide receiver who displays great body control. Cowing does a nice job of creating opportunities for himself and separating from defenders in open space. 

In his final season with the Miners, he tallied 1,354 yards on 69 receptions (19.6 yards per reception). He found the end zone on eight occasions, including one on the ground.

RB Zach Evans, Ole Miss

The mutual parting of ways between TCU and head coach Gary Patterson had some of the team’s talent looking elsewhere. Edge rusher Ochaun Mathis jumped to the Big Ten by joining Nebraska, but the biggest splash was made when Evans, the second highest-rated running back in the 2020 recruiting class according to the 247Sports composite, joined Lane Kiffin in Oxford. Evans has good size for the position, which allows him to be an above average blocker. Despite limited exposure, he looks comfortable catching passes out of the backfield as well. Through two years he has just 164 total touches, so there is little wear on the tires. The program also added SMU running back Ulysses Bentley IV, who also has a good chance to be drafted.

Few head coaches in college football embraced the transfer portal like Kiffin. Since last season concluded, a total of 17 players have joined the Rebels through the transfer portal, including former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart and USC tight end Michael Trigg.

RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

The first of two Crimson Tide players to make the list is Gibbs. Head coach Nick Saban took Ohio State wide receiver transfer Jameson Williams and guided him to a first-round selection last year. It will be difficult for the Georgia Tech transfer to follow suit considering positional value, but that does not take away from the talent that he is bringing to the SEC. 

Gibbs gets up to speed quickly and fights through contact. He plays with good balance and looks like a wide receiver catching passes out of the backfield. He has shown three-down flexibility early in his career. In addition to recording 746 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, the Georgia native finished second on the team in receptions with 36 receptions for 470 yards and two touchdowns in 2021.

CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

The Colorado transfer is impressive in stature at 6-foot-2. It has been an offseason of transition for new head coach Dan Lanning. In recent years, the Ducks have had an ample amount of secondary players go on to the NFL: safeties Jevon Holland and Brady Breeze, as well as cornerbacks Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir. Gonzalez should have a good chance to carry on the rich program history.  

The Ducks lost cornerback DJ James to Auburn in the transfer portal as well. 

LB/EDGE Gabriel Murphy, UCLA

Murphy was a bit like Micah Parsons in the way that he was used last season for North Texas. Quick in nature, the Dallas native does a good job of getting skinny and shooting gaps. He flashes quick hands and good balance. As a sophomore, he recorded 7.5 sack and two forced fumbles. 

The Bruins’ front seven also features Hawaii linebacker transfer Darius Muasau and Duke defensive tackle transfer Gary Smith III. 

CB Eli Ricks, Alabama

It is not common for an LSU Tiger to transfer to the rival Crimson Tide, but that is exactly what has happened with Ricks. After everything unfolded with head coach Ed Orgeron in Baton Rouge, the California native explored his options on the open market before settling on Alabama. With five interceptions over the past two years, Ricks was one of the most productive players available.

At 6-foot-2, he has a physical style of play that lends him to trigger downhill. He has good top end speed to carry routes up the boundary. Saban’s team is loaded in the secondary with DeMarcco Hellams, Jordan Battle, Khyree Jackson, Malachi Moore, Brian Branch and Kool-Aid McKinstry; only the latter is not draft eligible. 

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