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The Best Building Blocks from the 2023 NFL Draft – Locks and Sleepers

By: Jay Pounds (@jaypoundsnfl)

Dynasty Owners! By the next time you hear from me I believe the off-season will be in full swing. Make sure you get all paid up by March 18th to enjoy another full season of the best dynasty fantasy football on the planet. The quiet part of the football year is finally upon us and while there isn’t much to talk about there are a few fun topics floating around. Derek Carr ($37,500,000) was linked to a few teams, but ultimately the veteran signal caller signed with the Saints. Let me know on Twitter if you like the Carr and Saints combination heading into 2023. I personally wanted to see him sign with the Jets as I think they could be a very fun team if they had an above average quarterback. Can you believe I didn’t start with Aaron Rodgers ($50,217,667)? Rodgers is definitely one of the all-time greats at the position, but we went through this last off-season which puts me in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode. If I had to guess, Rodgers will end up back in Green Bay but the Jets are a sneaky team to watch. When Jets owner Woody Johnson wants something in the off-season he usually doesn’t care what the cost is. Where do my fellow Dynasty Owners see Rodgers playing in 2023?

In today’s article, we are going to jump into the off-season full swing and take a look at some of the future building blocks of the NFL. I do want to note this article was written before the NFL Combine happened so I was unable to include anything from the event. C.J. Stroud had himself a day though!


Lock – C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

Surprise, surprise, C.J. Stroud is my number one quarterback of the 2023 draft class. Yes, I will admit bias does play a role but to be fair It does not dictate everything as I had Justin Fields ($4,717,989) firmly behind Trevor Lawrence ($9,198,372) in 2021. C.J. Stroud had two excellent seasons at Ohio State throwing for over 8,000 yards and 85 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and saved his best performance for the semifinals against the best defense in the country. My favorite attribute for Stroud has to be his throwing accuracy as he rarely misses his mark. If Stroud continues to be elite in terms of accuracy and utilizes his athleticism more at the next level, he should become one of the most dangerous players in the game. The knock-on athletic quarterbacks tends to be that they do not examine the field long enough, but I believe the opposite can be said for Stroud at times as he waits too long for a play to develop when he could have an easy first down with his feet. If Stroud lands in a decent spot, I am expecting a huge rookie season and career for the Ohio State product.

  • Other players to watch – Bryce Young (Alabama), Will Levis (Kentucky)

Sleeper – Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)

In all honesty, this may be cheating but injuries are a part of football and Hendon Hooker’s draft predictions prove just that. Had Hooker not went down to a torn ACL this past season, he would likely be a first round selection in the upcoming NFL draft and likely in the top 20. Instead, he is now projected as a Day 2 NFL Draft selection. During his injury shortened 2022 season, Hooker posted impressive numbers throwing for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. Hooker also added 430 yards rushing and another 5 touchdowns. Should Hooker recover from his injury and return to form, he will be a tremendous value for Dynasty Owners anytime he steps on an NFL field. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle for Hooker will be his landing spot and his chances of becoming his new team’s QB1.

  • Other players to watch – Tanner McKee (Stanford), Anthony Richardson (Florida)

Running Back

Lock – Bijan Robinson (Texas)

The next Saquon Barkley ($10,091,000) is headed to the 2023 NFL Draft! Bijan Robinson has the allure of a generational talent at the running back position and well, let’s just say his numbers speak for themselves. In 2022, Robinson rushed for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding 19 catches for 314 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns and a whopping 16.5 yards per catch. Oh, and he also had similar production in his sophomore season. Robinson is an absolute freak of nature who can do it all at the position and the only real worry will be how quickly he adapts to the blocking side of things. When you read many of his scouting reports, this tends to pop up as a negative more often than not. When looking at the positives of Robinson’s scouting report, you will see things such as elite acceleration, excellent contact balance, great change of direction, great pass catching back, explosive in open space, and so much more that he has to be the top pick in the upcoming Dynasty Owner rookie drafts.

  • Other players to watch – Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama), Kendre Miller (TCU)

Sleeper – DeWayne McBride (UAB)

I’m sure this is a player not many of you have heard of, but I assure you that most of you will be impressed when you look into the pride of UAB, DeWayne McBride. In 2022, McBride ranked as the third overall running back in college football according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). While PFF is not the bible of football by any means, it is a good indication that the kid has a ton of talent. McBride not only has talent he has great size for the NFL and is listed at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. In 2022, McBride had an impressive stat line of over 1,700 yards rushing and added 19 touchdowns, all while averaging a whopping 7.4 yards per carry. The big issue with McBride is in the passing game, which will no doubt be his biggest knock leading up to the draft as the UAB product caught just 5 passes in his entire college career. If McBride is able to solidify his pass catching ability throughout the draft process, he could rise up draft boards fairly quickly.

  • Other players to watch – Tank Bigsby (Auburn), Eric Gray (Oklahoma)

Wide Receiver

Lock – Jordan Addison (USC)

I believe many of you will be surprised by this selection and I must admit it hurts not having Jaxon Smith-Njigba in this spot. The tiebreaker that put Addison over the top for me is the fact he had excellent success for two different universities (USC and Pittsburgh). Granted Addison played for top level quarterbacks at both spots, but it is still impressive to me. Addison did have injury issues in 2022 but still came close to hitting the 1000-yard mark in just 11 games, finishing the year with 59 catches for 875 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. The year before at Pittsburgh with Kenny Pickett ($3,516,976), Addison had 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. Addison does have some weaknesses that could be an issue at the NFL level, but none are more concerning than his physicality. If Addison can add some strength over the next few years, he has the potential to become an elite possession receiver for years to come and with Dynasty Owner having PPR scoring, he should be a very consistent player. Addison’s biggest strengths are his route running, separation, and experience and I am expecting his talents to translate quickly to the NFL.

  • Other players to watch – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (OSU), Quinten Johnston (TCU)

Sleeper – Rashee Rice (SMU)

In the sleeper wide receiver spot, we have our second player who graded extremely well according to PFF but played for a small school in Rashee Rice. Rice is a physical specimen at the receiver position coming in at 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing in at 203 pounds and moving extremely well for his size. Watch his highlights and you will fall in love! Rice should be a great contested catch receiver with a huge catch radius and has the speed to break the big plays today’s NFL loves. I hate to compare these young kids to big stars, but Rice reminds me a lot of DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) as his main knocks coming out of college were where he played and the fact he did not run a full route tree. Both were unbelievable athletes and top tier playmakers, and we all know how things worked out for Metcalf. I’m betting on Rice come draft season!

  • Other players to watch – Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee) A.T. Perry (Wake Forest)

Tight End

Lock – Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)

The tight end #1 of the upcoming draft is no doubt Notre Dame product, Michael Mayer. Had Brock Bowers not played college football, Mayer would be getting much more hype than he currently is. It reminds me of the Kyle Pitts ($8,227,624) and Pat Freiermuth ($1,507,045) situation a couple of years back. Had Pitts not been around, Freiermuth would have been viewed similarly to T.J. Hockenson ($9,392,000) when he came out of college. Instead, Freiermuth fell to the middle of the second round of our rookie drafts here on Dynasty Owner. Enough of the comparisons, let’s get into the on-field production. In 2022, Mayer had a stat line of 67 catches, 809 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns all while playing on a team not known for its offense. My favorite strength for Mayer heading into the NFL is the fact that he is an excellent blocker which will allow him to get on the field early and often. In college, Mayer was asked to block defensive linemen on occasions and while he did not dominate, he did hold his own which speaks volumes to his readiness as a blocker. Mayer will not blow you away with his athleticism, but he is an extremely smart football player who has enough athletic ability to do extremely well at the next level at the tight end position.

  • Other players to watch – None are in the same area code as Mayer.

Sleeper – Darnell Washington (Georgia)

In case you haven’t heard, Darnell Washington is one of the biggest athletes to step on a football field on planet Earth. At 6 feet 7 inches tall and 270 pounds. Washington should have no issue holding his own as a blocker at the NFL level. At this point you may be wondering how this massive man qualifies as a sleeper. The reason for this is because his stat line from 2022 is not the most glamorous by any means. Washington finished the season with 28 catches for receiving 454 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he was also playing behind a generational talent at the position in Brock Bowers. I have my reservations about Washington, but he will be a tight end I target quite a bit during our Dynasty Owner rookie drafts based on potential alone. Imagine being an NFL quarterback and having an athletic tight end the size of a house to throw to in the red zone.

  • Other players to watch – Sam Laporta (Iowa), McCallan Castles (UC Davis)

Thank you all for reading and be sure to check out all of the upcoming Dynasty Owner content. We have the Dynasty Owner podcast, the Dynasty Owner Livestream, and articles to help with your Dynasty Owner teams. Good luck on your 2023 Chase for the Ring!

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