Way-Too-Early 2023 Utes Draft Prospects
SALT LAKE CITY- Another NFL Draft has come and gone. Utah didn’t have a lot of players drafted in 2022, but made up for it in free agency with seven players taken. Making headlines was linebacker Devin Lloyd who was taken 27th overall in the first round to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
— Michelle Bodkin (@BodkinKSLsports) April 29, 2022
As good as the 2021 Utah football team was that fed talent into the 2022 draft class, it’s possible the 2022 team that will feed into the 2023 draft class will be even better. It’s never too early to dream, so lets take a look at some of the Utes’ way-too-early draft prospects for 2023. Below are six athletes I believe will generate a lot of buzz, along with seven more that could push themselves into the conversation with a good season/good health.
Six Sure-Fire Picks
The Draft will be a little interesting for the foreseeable future due to the extra Covid-19 year backing up the classes. It will be harder than usual to be drafted and guys will have to not just be great, but near phenomenal in order to hear their names called. There are a couple of names on Utah’s 2022 roster that could meet that expectation.
Cam Rising, Quarterback
Rising appears to be one of those guys who just has “it”. Yes, Rising is a great player, but he oozes that “something extra” that’s hard to explain. In 2021, Rising became the starter four games in after Baylor transfer Charlie Brew was benched and subsequently left the program. Once Rising went in, it felt like the Utes were an entirely different team. Rising threw 20 touchdown passes to five interceptions in 2021 along with 2,493 yards and a QBR of 84.2. If Rising does what everyone thinks he can in 2022, he will have the NFL’s full attention.
Utah’s QB1 @crising7 says his calm demeanor stems from a love of competition and getting lots of practice going against his older brother @CoachRising58 as kids. #ThiccBoi7 proverbs. (Also note his answer is exactly 22 seconds.) #GoUtes #22Forever pic.twitter.com/tXFpCmDk8m
— Michelle Bodkin (@BodkinKSLsports) April 20, 2022
Brant Kuithe, Tight End
Kuithe decided to “run it back” a second time for 2022. Most assumed he would come out this past draft class. However, Kuithe was not satisfied with his draft grade and felt he could increase his stock with one more season. The tight end is intriguing because he’s smaller than what you typically see at the position, but it makes Kuithe very versatile. Utah has used Kuithe in a running back-like position in the past, as well as utilizing his soft hands as more of a receiver. Like any good tight end, Kuithe is also good for blocking when needed. The Utes are looking to be more productive with their receivers in 2022 and Kuithe is expected to play a big role in that. If Kuithe shows he can be a consistent weapon in that role, he could be a prize in the 2023 Draft class.
Dalton Kincaid, Tight End
The Utes were loving their two and three tight end sets in 2021. Kincaid ended up being a big factor in those formations and will be back for the 2022 season. More of your traditional type of tight end, Kincaid can block and Kincaid can catch touchdowns, or make the big play. A lot of big plays. In 2021 Kincaid recorded 36 receptions for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Kincaid is good enough that rumors of other college programs being interested in him and using NIL to coax him away have swirled recently. However, Kincaid has a great connection with Rising and is poised for a big season up on the hill that could translate to a big paycheck in the 2023 NFL Draft.
— Dalton Kincaid (@_DaltonKincaid) April 27, 2022
Clark Phillips III, Cornerback
When Phillips III signed with the Utes, it was widely known he wanted to pursue the “Jaylon Johnson Plan”. (Get a degree and be a starter for three years, and then head to the NFL.) Believe it or not, Phillips III is eligible for the draft after this season and his name has already drawn some interest. Phillips III was very impressive in 2021, but the Rose Bowl really put him on the map. The Buckeyes have a formidable passing attack orchestrated by C.J. Stroud and his stable of receivers and Phillips III played like it was nothing. Phillips is credited with six stops, one forced fumble and an interception against Ohio State. The performance was good enough to catch NFL scouts’ eyes.
Tavion Thomas, Running Back
Thomas was slow to find his groove for the Utes last season mostly due to fumble issues, and then the lights turned on. At six-foot, two-inches and 238 pounds, Thomas is an absolute monster at the position. Especially in redzone situations. In 2021 Thomas finished the season with 21 total touchdowns, 1,108 yards. Thomas could be even better in 2022, and certainly has some measurables that are eye-catching, the most important thing for him to stay focused on the moment.
— Tavion.Thomas (@thiagoothomas9) January 6, 2022
Braeden Daniels, Offensive Line
Daniels, like most offensive linemen has been sneaky good. If you don’t hear an offensive lineman’s name, it generally means they are holding it down, however, Daniels has been receiving a lot of praise from the coaches for his elevated play. This past spring head coach Kyle Whittingham said confidently that Daniels could play any position on the offensive line and has been leader for the group. With limited roster space, the NFL likes a bang for their buck and having a versatile offensive lineman like Daniels is always an easy sell.
Others To Watch
The Utes have a few athletes that could be interesting to watch depending on their health and consistency through the 2022 season. Again, the Draft will continue to be tight for a few years so the pressure is on to be exceptional. With a big season, these athletes could slip in.
- R.J. Hubert, Safety
- Devin Kaufusi, Defensive Line
- Solomon Enis, Wide Receiver
- Devaughn Vele, Wide Receiver
- Mohamoud Diabate, Linebacker
- J.T. Broughton, Cornerback
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