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10 Favorite Offensive Players in 2023
Favorite players. Not the best players.
These are the guys who I found myself rooting for, like their game, character or just can’t explain it at all. I think every fan has a few players that they like and we don’t have to justify that. Jalen Hurts is a previous favorite player of mine and even though I didn’t expect him to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl so early in his career, I have always rooted for his success. Here are 10 players in the 2023 draft that I find myself rooting for so far.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
No surprise here with the first favorite offensive player, and my favorite player overall in this class. Bijan Robinson is the most complete running back to enter the draft since Najee Harris in 2021. Ok, so it hasn’t been that long since we’ve seen a running back of this caliber, but that doesn’t mean Bijan Robinson isn’t special. Robinson made chicken salad out of chicken shit in his three years at Texas - while running behind a below average offensive line - and showcased his ability to make defenders miss. Everyone wants to use the Reggie Bush comp for Robinson’s big play ability and agile feet. But I see another No. 5 when I watch Bijan Robinson - LaDanian Tomlinson. Tomlinson and Robinson both weigh in at 220+ lbs, have lightning quick feet and are straight up dangerous catching the ball. Robinson is so good at receiving that he could even line up at receiver in the NFL. Robinson is getting some high praise here, but that is why he is my favorite player in this draft. Maybe a little Texas Longhorns biased…but who knows.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Who doesn’t love a big pass catching tight end? Michael Mayer has wowed college football fans for three years at Notre Dame and even prior to his college years had earned the nickname “Baby Gronk.” At 6’ 4” and 265-pounds, Mayer comes in almost three inches shorter than Gronk but has some similar traits. Both tight ends are adequate, and willing, run blockers. Which isn't something you can say about every tight end now. Both tight ends are scary with the ball in their hands. Both tight ends create separation with their bodies and neither rely on speed. Mayer is one of my favorite players in this class - but also one of my favorite tight end prospects in many years.
Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
Another Texas running back? YEP! Bijan Robinson received most of the attention in Austin but Roschon Johnson deserves a lot of praise too. Johnson was the leader and captain of the offense, mentor to Bijan Robinson and one hell of a running back. Johnson made the move to running back his freshman season, after being recruited as a quarterback, due to injuries at the running back position. Johnson excelled so much at the position the coaching staff kept him there. At 6’ 2” and 220 lbs, Johnson has the frame for running back but, much like his Texas teammate, is a great receiver at the position too. While you might not hear his name at the top of the draft, Johnson is definitely a guy you should be excited about on your team. His character, leadership and work ethic will play on any NFL team.
Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
We already talked about Baby Gronk once and we might have another one in Darnell Washington. In fact, Washington is probably more of a Baby Gronk than Michael Mayer. At 6’ 7” and 265 pounds, Washington has the same build and length as Gronk and also shares a willingness to run block. Men this big shouldn’t be able to move like Washington and his size and athletic ability have teams looking at Washington in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Not bad for a guy that was TE2 on his own college team.
PS Brock Bowers is an early favorite for 2024!
Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State
I don’t know how well a running back of Deuce Vaughn’s size can play in the NFL but we did see fellow K-State Wildcat Darren Sprouls have a nice long NFL career. Vaughn was listed at 5’6” and 172 pounds while Sprouls checked in at 5’6” and 187 pounds. Obviously the height is the same but the 15 pounds difference is a huge gap at the running back position. Vaughn will definitely get his shot in the NFL with his elite elusiveness and hands out of the backfield. And he will definitely have me rooting for him on Sundays.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Most of us probably watched Mo Ibrahim tear up the Buckeyes in Week 1 of the 2021 season. Then, we sadly watched him tear his achilles and be sidelined for an entire year. Ibrahim is a throwback to running backs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s and that’s probably what does it for me. But I’ve also heard many people talk about the work he has put in, both before and after his injury, to get to where he is. His 1665 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2022 were impressive alone, but doing that after tearing your achilles is unbelievable.
Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State
After starting his college career at Blinn Community College, Xavier Hutchinson quickly became one of the most exciting receivers in the Big 12. This Texas fan is glad to watch him leave Iowa State after a couple big games against my Longhorns, but even I could appreciate his game. Hutchinson has the size, length, and strength of a big play receiver in the NFL and possesses good speed for his size too. Teams looking to add receiver depth in the later rounds should be targeting Hutchinson - who has some real boom potential at receiver.
John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
I think I have a man crush on Big Ten centers. Doesn’t even matter the school! Give me a Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa or Minnesota center every year! Schmitz is the top center in this class and it’s not just because of my man crush - it’s his versatility at a key position and his ability to win one-on-one - which he showed this past week at the Senior Bowl. Schmitz is going to be fun to watch in the run game and any team he goes to will immediately get a fan favorite.
Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
A torn ACL delayed Demus Jr. in 2021 but the 6’4”, 215 pound receiver returned to Maryland in 2022 and showed he still has top tier speed and big play ability. I would like to see Demus find a role with a team that can develop him as a route runner but also utilize his size and speed combo vertically. He might not be a WR1 but if I’m drafting late and need a receiver Demus is going on my board.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
I’ve been a part of the Hendon Hooker Hive since his Virginia Tech days! While at Virginia Tech, Hooker flashed some potential but never really got things going. I rooted for him in his transfer to Tennessee but even I didn’t expect the glow up he had in 2022. Hooker finally lived up to the potential I saw at Tech and developed even more as a passer at Tennessee. Hooker’s age gives me a little pause, but it won’t stop me from rooting for him in the NFL.