American Football

2023 CFP National Championship: Draft prospects Bears should target


Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Tonight’s national championship showcases plenty of elite talents the Bears would be smart to target in the 2023 draft.

It’s time for the biggest game in college football: the national championship!

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (14-0) will be taking on the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs (13-1) on Monday night in a game that promises to be an enticing matchup. Georgia sneaked away with a victory over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, while TCU upset Michigan in Fiesta Bowl earlier that day. Both teams have had an interesting path to get to where they are today, but it has led them both to the grandest stage in FBS college football.

The 2023 NFL Draft will be of utmost importance for the Bears, especially now that they have the No. 1 pick. They’ll have plenty of options to consider with that selection and the picks they have after that, and there’s a chance at least one of those players come from this game.

We’ve decided to give you all an open thread during the national championship game, as well as the top 2023 draft prospects to watch out for in the matchup. Or, feel free to use this WCG-MA thread as an excuse to talk about whatever football topics suit your fancy.

Georgia Bulldogs

  • DL Jalen Carter
  • CB Kelee Ringo
  • LT Broderick Jones
  • TE Darnell Washington
  • C Sedrick Van Pran
  • S Christopher Smith
  • RB Kenny McIntosh
  • S Tykee Smith
  • RT Warren McClendon
  • WR Ladd McConkey
  • EDGE Robert Beal Jr.
  • QB Stetson Bennett
  • WR Dominick Blaylock
  • EDGE Nolan Smith*
  • CB William Poole*

Georgia looks to become the first school in 10 years to win back-to-back FBS national championships, and nobody has been able to stop them from doing so yet.

I’m particularly intrigued by the Bulldogs’ offensive line. Broderick Jones is a great athlete and flat-out reliable tackle who should generate first-round looks. Sedrick Van Pran’s nasty demeanor and well-rounded game makes him one of the top interior offensive linemen in the 2023 class, and Warren McClendon is a stout offensive tackle with a strong anchor. They keep a clean pocket for Stetson Bennett, Georgia’s 95-year-old former walk-on whose collegiate success should give him an NFL opportunity as at least an undrafted free agent.

His best draft-eligible target is Darnell Washington, whose absurd 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame makes him a fantastic run blocker and gives him impressive abilities at the catch point. Kenny McIntosh is a tough runner with good pass-catching skills, and Dominick Blaylock is a depth receiver for Georgia who has the tools to stick with a practice squad. Though he isn’t expected to declare for the 2023 draft, remember Ladd McConkey for future draft classes.

As was the case last year, Georgia’s pride and joy is its defense, which allowed the second-fewest points per game in the FBS this year. Jalen Carter’s abilities have been well documented, so feel free to read my scouting report on the potential Bears first-round target, or even my previous report on him from last July! Kelee Ringo is still a work in progress, but he has prototypical cornerback tools and has the upside to develop into a high-end NFL CB1 in the future. Christopher Smith is a rangy and intelligent safety who dominated in 2022, and his running-mate Tykee Smith brings similar fluidity and speed on the back end. If you’re looking for a sleeper on the Bulldogs’ defense, Robert Beal Jr. is a raw but explosive and twitchy edge rusher worth remembering in later rounds.

TCU Horned Frogs

  • WR Quentin Johnston
  • CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
  • LG Steve Avila
  • RB Kendre Miller
  • C Alan Ali
  • EDGE Dylan Horton
  • CB Noah Daniels
  • WR Derius Davis
  • QB Max Duggan
  • LB Dee Winters

TCU’s transformation from a 5-7 season last year to having an undefeated regular season and making it to the CFP national championship is nothing short of extraordinary.

The Horned Frogs have one of the best offenses in college football, so it makes sense that they have multiple players generating NFL attention right now. The star of the show is wide receiver Quentin Johnston, a physical specimen with a massive frame at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Not only is he a massive weapon who’s physical at the catch point and hard to tackle, but he also has very good deep speed for his size and has arguably the highest ceiling of any receiver in the draft.

Throwing him the ball is quarterback Max Duggan: a gutsy passer with a nice arm and sneaky good athleticism. It’s unknown whether Kendre Miller will declare for the 2023 draft, but he’s one of the most explosive running backs in the nation, while Derius Davis is another talented receiver who’s small but absurdly fast. TCU’s offensive line has some intriguing prospects in Steve Avila, who uses his hands super well and has very good strength at the point of attack, and Alan Ali, a five-year collegiate starter with a high football IQ.

While TCU’s defense isn’t decorated to the level that Georgia’s is, they still have plenty of NFL-caliber prospects. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is perhaps the most underrated cornerback in the 2023 draft, as his shutdown performances and ball production have been consistent over the last few years. Dylan Horton broke out this year with 10.5 sacks, and he is an athletic freak with some intriguing developmental tools to work with going forward. Dee Winters is a high-motored linebacker who’s undersized, but he has plenty of range as a tackler and offers very good open-field speed. Though Noah Daniels’ collegiate career hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, he’s still a gifted cornerback with good physical tools and untapped potential.

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