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The prospects most likely to start on opening day as rookies in the NFL in 2023 are listed below


2023 NFL Draft: Prospects Most Ready to Be Day 1 Starters as Rookies

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    Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    The NFL is preparing for an influx of talent during the upcoming draft, but only a small percentage of this incoming class will make their mark on the league as a rookie.

    While many of these prospects will take some time to adjust to the speed of the professional game and need time to develop on the bench, some will be a natural fit and carve out a role quickly.

    Whether they have the athleticism, skills or even the mindset to succeed instantly, certain prospects stand out from the rest because of their pro-ready capabilities.

    With that in mind, here are five players who you should expect to see make an impact on Sundays this coming season.

Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

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    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 02: Linebacker Will Anderson of Alabama participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Will Anderson Jr. is one of the few generational-type prospects available in this draft class. The Bleacher Report Scouting Department slotted the Alabama star at the very top of its latest big board after doling out a rare 9.6 grade on the edge-rusher.

    Anderson made an instant impact after arriving on campus in Tuscaloosa and will have the same type of effect on whichever team is fortunate enough to draft the 21-year-old next month. He started 13 games as a true freshman on a loaded Crimson Tide defense that won a national championship, racking up 10.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks.

    After finishing his three-year career with the second-most sacks (34.5) and tackles for a loss (62) in his storied school's history, Anderson is ready to take on bigger challenges in the NFL.

    While he's not the biggest edge-rusher in the class—he measured in a shade over 6'3" and 250 pounds at the combine—he packs an absurd amount of power onto his frame and should only develop further in that area over the next few years.

    Anderson is far from one-dimensional and already has a refined set of pass-rushing techniques—using both power and speed. He's able to use his athleticism to blow by offensive linemen and close the gap on quarterbacks or shut down plays in the backfield, but he's also able to set an edge and uses top-notch footwork to consistently beat his blocker in a variety of ways.

    It would be an absolute shock if Anderson's game doesn't make a seamless transition to the pros. He has everything a club could want in a modern pass-rusher, and he'll be a foundational piece of any defense that lands him for at least the next half-decade.

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

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    Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    AP Photo/Darron Cummings

    Jack Campbell was one of the breakout stars at the NFL Scouting Combine. His performance showcased some remarkable athleticism for a player who was already thought to be one of the better interior linebackers available in 2023.

    Campbell earned the highest athleticism score for his position in Indianapolis after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, jumping 37.5 inches vertically and blazing through both the three-cone drill (6.74 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.24 seconds).

    The Iowan was a late bloomer for the Hawkeyes but has been a dominant force in the middle of the program's defense for the last two years. The 6'5", 249-pound linebacker has racked up 265 tackles since the start of 2021 while also adding seven pass defended, four interceptions and a pair of both forced fumbles and sacks.

    That effort helped Campbell grade out as the No. 41 overall prospect, third-best interior linebacker and top run-stopper at the position, according to the latest Bleacher Report Scouting Department rankings.

    Perhaps most importantly for his pro prospects, Campbell has developed into the type of on-field leader that great NFL defenses require. He was voted team captain for 2021 and 2022 and won Iowa's Team Hustle award as a senior. During his interviews, he spoke about how important it is to establish relationships with his teammates so he can feel comfortable calling them out on mistakes.

    Mark Gaughan of BuffaloNews.com quoted Campbell on how important it is for him to take responsibility for his own missteps as a team leader: "When I make a mistake, I want to be the first one that raises my hand, and then I want to be the one that gets chewing tobacco in my eyes from coaches."

    With that attitude in addition to his solid athleticism and high awareness, Campbell appears to be the type of linebacker who will start every game and never come off the field from the time he enters the NFL until the day he retires.

Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Running back Roschon Johnson of Texas speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Roschon Johnson may not be the top running back in this class, or even at his school, but the Texas power back has the potential to become a great NFL player.

    While electrifying teammate Bijan Robinson may be the most hyped player at the position and a potential first-round pick, Johnson carved out an impressive "thunder" role to Robinson's "lightning" during their tenure in Austin.

    Johnson arrived on campus as a quarterback recruit but was converted to running back after a slew of injuries ravaged the Longhorns backfield before the start of the campaign. It was an instant success, as the 6'0", 219-pounder wore down defenses and picked up tough yardage on a regular basis.

    Although he only amassed 2,190 yards during his four years at Texas, Robinson was highly efficient—he averaged 5.6 yards per carry—with his touches and racked up 23 touchdowns on the ground. He had just one fumble during his entire college career and was a dependable, consistent back year in and year out.

    Johnson isn't just a plodding power back who only takes short-yardage touches up the middle though. He flashed skills as a pass-catcher—reeling in 56 catches for 420 yards and three scores over the last four seasons—and is a willing blocker.

    Texas' coaching staff deployed Johnson in a variety of ways, giving him experience that will be invaluable as he looks to carve out a role early in his professional career.

    Whether he's working as part of a platoon—something he proved to be more than comfortable with after declining to transfer despite playing in Robinson's shadow—or finally getting a crack at becoming a feature back, Johnson is surprisingly versatile for a running back of his size who teams will find a place on the field for.

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

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    TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    AP Photo/Michael Conroy

    Few NFL receivers possess the combination of size and athleticism that TCU's Quentin Johnston brings to the table.

    After measuring up at a sizable 6'3", 208 pounds with 33⅝-inch arm length, as well as posting a vertical leap of 40½ inches and a broad jump 11'2" at the combine, Johnston firmly established himself as one of, if not, the top overall wideout in the 2023 class.

    Although his stats don't jump off the page—he never posted a 1,000-yard season until TCU's run to the national championship game this past season—Johnston has matured into an elite prospect who will find a surefire role at the next level.

    Just about every team would benefit from having a rangy wideout who can beat defenders with either speed or strength. The No. 7 overall prospect on the latest Bleacher Report Scouting Department big board is a matchup nightmare for the opposition to deal with and can slot in as a playmaking No. 2 or even a volume-heavy No. 1 depending on where he lands on draft night.

    One of the few knocks on Johnston was a perception that he's not able to convert his arm length into a big catch radius, but he helped addressed that concern in Indianapolis by coming up with a reaching highlight-reel reception during pass-catching drills:

    Quincy Peyton @AgentQ_22

    I thought they said Quentin Johnston was a Body Catcher??? <a href="https://t.co/OvcgT0vKvN">pic.twitter.com/OvcgT0vKvN</a>

    Johnston's ability to rack up yards after the catch and break tackles are arguably his best asset. He'll be a favorite target for his quarterback because of his special ability to rip off big gains and rack up first downs once he has the ball.

    Given his unteachable attributes and rare blend of traits, Johnston is ready to take the fast track to becoming an elite NFL wideout.

Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

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    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 05: Peter Skoronski of Northwestern looks on during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 05, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Peter Skoronski is one of the top offensive linemen available in the 2023 class, but there have been concerns about his ability to continue playing tackle—the position he shined at during his three seasons at Northwestern—in the pros.

    A few teams may be put off by Skoronski's extremely short arms—his 32¼-inch arm length measurement ranked in the fourth percentile for tackles at the combine since 1999—and general lack of stature at 6'4", 313 pounds.

    Those who aren't scared off by the measurements will find Skoronski to be a highly skilled, overly capable NFL offensive lineman who will almost certainly find himself in a starting role this coming season.

    As the No. 11 player on the latest Bleacher Report Scouting Department big board, there are no offensive tackle prospects rated higher than Skoronski in 2023.

    The 21-year-old is a deceptively good athlete with an incredible football IQ and leadership capabilities. He possesses fantastic technique and balance that will allow him to go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest and quickest defenders and win most of those matchups.

    Factor in a football pedigree—his father played at Yale and his grandfather was a captain on the Green Bay Packers' five championship teams coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi—and teams in need of an offensive line anchor would be foolish to pass up this blue-chip prospect.

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