In a recent conversation about the top DL prospects at the 2023 NFL combine, Yahoo Sports’ Charles McDonald and Derrik Klassen from Football Outsiders talked about Georgia's Jalen Carter, where he might end up in the draft this April, and other notable defensive players to keep an eye on.
CHARLES MCDONALD: The best guy also went to my favorite. He went to my favorite university, Georgia Bulldogs, Jalen Carter. He's going to kill this. OK, if I was Jalen Carter, I would not even tie cleats on in Indianapolis next week. I would not even think about testing. Because he's got everything locked up, as far as being-- his floor is what, pick three, to Arizona?
DERRIK KLASSEN: Yeah.
CHARLES MCDONALD: So I don't think he has anything to gain from going next week. But if he does-- which would be, again, it would be a bit of an upset-- he's going to post an all time combine for a defensive player.
DERRIK KLASSEN: What's crazy is he has-- if you imagine what is a 9.5 out of strength, and a 9.5 out of athletic ability for a 300 pounder, he has both of them. You're not supposed to have both. You can have one or the other, and be like a 7 in the other. No dude, he is legitimately about as good as you're going to get for a defensive tackle prospect. I don't know, man. He's going to be a terrier. I don't even think there's a whole lot to say about Carter. He's to me--
CHARLES MCDONALD: Yeah.
DERRIK KLASSEN: The best player in the class.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Mazi Smith is kind of interesting. He's a nose tackle from Michigan. He's like 6' 3", 340. But he was on Bruce Feldman's freak list. And I think when you watch him play a little bit, you can see that. He's not the most refined player, but you're talking about someone who's 330, 340, that might run in the four eights, or even hit a four seven.
Come on, that's probably going to get you pushed up to the first round every single time. Clemson, along the offensive line, they have two guys to pay attention to, Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy. Bresee plays interior defensive line. Murphy's an edge defender. And I think they both have a lot to gain by how they perform at the combine.
Murphy is kind of an interesting guy to me, because he's got all the straight line bursts and juice. And I was watching him last night. And it's like you-- from the first two or three steps out of his stance, you're like, holy [BLEEP]. This is a first round, this is a top five pick. And then he tries to turn the corner. And it's like, OK. Well this is-- something here is not quite translating. And it's a little stiff in the hips.
But then he's also got the closing speed, if he can get around the corner. But I think being able to get around the corner and actually be facing the quarterback is probably the most important part of being an edge rusher. Bryan Bresee though, I got to say, I didn't quite understand when I was watching this film why this guy was slotted in the first round. But he's being slotted in the first round by everyone. So I'm assuming that the NFL must like him a good deal.
DERRIK KLASSEN: I mean, he just kind of-- I haven't really seen a whole lot of him. But he kind of just seems like one of those five star recruit, played at Clemson forever, or I mean started from the jump type of deal. And so we're kind of just assuming that the talented player is there, and that it hasn't been unlocked yet. But I don't know yet. He just seems a little bit more one of the more perplexing players in the class.
CHARLES MCDONALD: One of my favorites in this entire class, Tyree Wilson, edge defender from Texas Tech. Have you had a chance to watch any of this film yet?
DERRIK KLASSEN: I know for a fact that is my type of player, dude.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Dude, he is different.
DERRIK KLASSEN: Big guy, long arms, strong as hell, just a mean, mean player. That is my type of guy. I've filled for Carlos Dunlap forever. He's the only good Gator defensive end that's worth anything. This feels like Carlos Dunlap. This feels like that kind of player.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Last edge defender slash last defensive line, Will Anderson from the University of Alabama. What have you seen from Will Anderson, just live viewing or watching him across from all-22 tape?
DERRIK KLASSEN: I mean, Anderson's awesome. I feel like they kind of neutered him a little bit this year playing him so much at four eye, when he's like 240, 245 pounds. He's very clearly going to be outside in the NFL. But when he gets those outside reps, where he can just rip it? He's just awesome, man. And what's crazy is he has the burst. He has the speed, and enough of the bend from a 245 pound guy that you would think.
But it's the strength for that size. He has so much muscle compacted into that body. He is just-- I have zero concerns that-- you know, you look at 245, and you're like, that's a little light for an edge rusher. But the way he plays, it's like no. He plays like he's 260, and you don't even think about it.
CHARLES MCDONALD: The thing Will Anderson is, even with the change of position this year? He still had 10 sacks.
DERRIK KLASSEN: Yeah, it doesn't matter.
CHARLES MCDONALD: It's not like the production fell off a cliff or something like that. He's still one of the best defensive players in college football. And honestly, I think the fact that-- obviously, he's not going to play this in the NFL. But the fact that he could play that in college at that size, it shows you he at least has the strength to hold up at the NFL level at bare minimum. So wow, good defensive line class, I think, at least at the top. Pretty good.