The first round of the highly anticipated 2023 NFL Draft is in the books. But we're just getting started, as a ton of high-impact, plug-and-play prospects are still sitting on the board.
Thursday night's festivities began as expected, with the Carolina Panthers taking Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick. But the Houston Texans followed it up with a stunner, trading up to pair Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud with the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks, as boldly predicted by NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
The Seattle Seahawks then opted to try to bring back the Legion of Boom with the selection of Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon, and the Philadelphia Eagles miraculously managed to reunite Georgia DT Jalen Carter and DE Nolan Smith.
But enough about Round 1. Let's break down the top prospects still available entering the second night of the 2023 NFL Draft, including the four players left waiting in the green room at the end of the first round.
Honorable Mentions: TE Michael Mayer, G O'Cyrus Torrence, QB Hendon Hooker, WR Jalin Hyatt
1. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Will Levis went from briefly being the favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick to falling entirely out of the first round within a few days in a 2023 NFL Draft class that was chock-full of smokescreens. One of the several culprits for his draft day slide include his inconsistent pocket presence, as well as his mechanics, scattershot ball placement and struggling to find rhythm and read blitzes. There is apparently also some injury concern.
Plus, his tape regressed significantly from 2021 to 2022 after his offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, departed to Los Angeles to take on the same role for the Rams. Nevertheless, Coen, who has since returned to Kentucky, recently praised Levis for his intelligence, work ethic and potential at the next level. Levis is certainly equipped with desired physical traits, including his size (6-4, 229 pounds), plus-athleticism, quick release and a cannon of an arm, and it's easy to see why a team will be willing to take a chance on his upside early in the second round. The Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders each make sense as potential destinations.
2. Brian Branch, S, Alabama
A very versatile, rangy, instinctive and tenacious defensive back with impeccable football intelligence, Brian Branch has the tools to excel at the next level as a nickel corner and as a single-high safety. His speed certainly didn't show up in his NFL Combine numbers, but he has virtually no weaknesses on tape. The 6-0, 190-pound safety should hear his name called early Friday evening. Potential landing spots include the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Raiders and New York Jets, if they opt to trade up in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
The son of the Steelers' former star linebacker has been vocal about the idea of playing in Pittsburgh, and he has a strong chance to be the first pick off the board Friday night, given the Steelers' glaring need at corner following the departure of Cameron Sutton in free agency. Though, there is a chance it's not Pittsburgh making that pick.
Despite his scheme limitations, Joey Porter Jr. is a smart, strong and physical corner with excellent coverage skills and legitimate upside to be a true No. 1 CB at the next level.
4. Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
Despite underwhelming production in college (11.0 sacks, two tipped passes, one interception and one forced fumble in 28 games), plus questions about his inconsistency on tape, Keion White possesses the size (6-5, 285 pounds), length, instincts, power, versatility and projectable upside to be a menace at the next level. Potential destinations in the second round include the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Lions and Chicago Bears.
5. John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Sturdy at the point of attack and explosive at the snap, John Michael Schmitz is a pro-ready, technically sound center with All-Pro potential. He was the highest-graded run blocking lineman in all of college football, according to PFF, and he anchors extremely well in pass protection. Schmitz can shine in any offense, but he's a perfect fit in an outside zone scheme. Potential landing spots early in the second round include the Cardinals, Colts and Seahawks.
6. Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
A plus run defender with high upside as a pass rusher, Adetomiwa Adebawore saw his stock rise significantly after boasting a 91.8 pass rush grade at the Senior Bowl and running a blazing 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, a ridiculous feat for a 6-2, 282-pound defensive lineman. Adebawore plays with great leverage, good hand usage, a relentless motor and a unique frame that makes him one of the more compelling prospects in this year's NFL Draft class. Potential second-round destinations include the Cardinals, Lions, Seahawks, Raiders and Patriots.