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What Utah ties show up in way-too-early 2023 NFL mock drafts?

Two years ago, two former Utah high school football players were selected in the first seven picks of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Former BYU and Corner Canyon quarterback Zach Wilson went to the New York Jets at No. 2 overall, while former Oregon and Desert Hills offensive tackle Penei Sewell was the Detroit Lions’ pick at No. 7.

It was arguably the best NFL draft for Utah-developed talent in history, as seven players who played high school football in the state were drafted.

If 2023 NFL mock drafts are any indication, next year could be a big one again for the state.

with the 2022 NFL Draft Wrapping up last weekend, the focus of many national writers has turned toward the future and the 2023 draft.

A look at 10 different 2023 NFL first-round mock drafts released over the past few days shows that a handful of Utah ties could work themselves into being an early-round draft pick next year.

Ironically enough, the top projected Utah tie for next year’s draft is Sewell’s younger brother — Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell.

It’s always a guess making these kind of predictions so early, since underclassmen wouldn’t have declared for the 2023 draft yet. We’re several months away from that.

Still, it gives a look at what kind of talent could be available.

Here’s five Utah ties who showed up in one or more of the way-too-early 2023 mock drafts.


Noah Sewell, Oregon

linebacker

6-foot-3, 251 pounds.

  • Star ranking: 5-star prospect by both 247 Sports and Rivals coming out of Orem High in the 2020 recruiting class.
  • Where he’s selected in 2023 NFL mock drafts:
    No. 9 overall, Seattle Seahawks — The Draft Network
    No. 14 overall, New England Patriots — Bleacher Report
    No. 16 overall, New England Patriots — CBS Sports
    No. 19 overall, Minnesota Vikings — Pro Football Network
    No. 22 overall, Cincinnati Bengals — sportingnews
    No. 24 overall, Miami Dolphins — The 33rd Team
    No. 28 overall, Detroit Lions — 247 Sports
  • The Draft Network’s Joe Marino wrote: “Noah Sewell is a special talent that jumps off the screen with his elite defensive playmaking skills. He would be a wonderful replacement for Bobby Wagner.”
  • Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor wrote: “Sewell can drop in coverage well, react to the run game, and has an uncanny ability to understand when to pick and choose his shots in the blitz game. A three-down linebacker in the mold of Devin Lloyd becomes another cornerstone defensive piece on the Minnesota Vikings’ defense.”
  • 247 Sports’ Blake Brockmeyer wrote: “How great would it be for Detroit to bring in the younger brother of 2021 first-rounder Penei Sewell? Noah Sewell is pretty good on his own right. Noah’s a giant backer who is always looking to cause the opponent some headaches. Ceiling player who plays with a fire in his game and is a sure tackler in the box.”

Clark Phillips III, wearing a white helmet and red jersey, celebrates after a touchdown

Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III (8) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Washington State at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in Salt Lake City. Utah won the game 24-13.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Clark Phillips III, Utah

corner back

5-foot-10, 184 pounds,

  • Star ranking: 4-star prospect by both 247 Sports and Rivals in the 2020 recruiting class.
  • Where he’s selected in 2023 NFL mock drafts:
    No. 20 overall, Arizona Cardinals — Pro Football Network
    No. 29 overall, Green Bay Packers — 247 Sports
    No. 29 overall, Green Bay Packers — The Draft Scout
    No. 30, Kansas City Chiefs — Barstool Sports
  • Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor wrote: “The Utah Utes are known for their defense. And soon, they’ll be known for Clark Phillips III. A dominant cornerback, Phillips has speed for days and plenty of football IQ that allows him to maintain coverage against any receiver. He’s a ball hawk with plus skills against the run as well.”
  • 247 Sports’ Blake Brockmeyer wrote: “Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III has cat-like quickness, plus the ability to pivot and change direction as well as any corner in the country. Phillips plays with a high IQ, can match routes and has a chance to take his game to another level in 2022.”

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BYU Cougars offensive lineman Blake Freeland (71) celebrates after a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. BYU won 26-17.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Blake Freeland, BYU

offensive tackle

6-foot-3, 305 pounds.

  • Star ranking: 3-star prospect by both 247 Sports and Rivals coming out of Herriman High in the 2019 recruiting class.
  • Where he’s selected in 2023 NFL mock drafts:
    No. 21 overall, Baltimore Ravens — 247 Sports
  • 247 Sports’ Blake Brockmeyer wrote: “Blake Freeland has a giant frame and is an excellent protector who never allowed multiple pressures in 2021. Freeland has grown into the position and isn’t anywhere close to his ceiling, which should make the 2022 season a money year for the former three- star recruit.”

Baylor Bears defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 31-24.

Baylor Bears defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 31-24.

Sam Hodde, Associated Press

Siaki Ika, Baylor

defensive tackle

6-foot-4, 250 pounds.

  • Star ranking: 4-star prospect by both 247 Sports and Rivals coming out of East High in the 2019 recruiting class. He originally signed with LSU and played two seasons before transferring to Baylor.
  • Where he’s selected in 2023 NFL mock drafts:
    No. 22 overall, Baltimore Ravens — Barstool Sports
  • Barstool Sports’ Steven Cheah wrote: “The Ravens were hoping for Georgia DT Jordan Davis and just missed out. Next year they could target Ika who is close to 350 pounds so they can get back to their roots.”

Alabama's Cameron Latu reacts after catching a touchdown pass during the second half of the College Football Playoff championship football game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Alabama’s Cameron Latu reacts after catching a touchdown pass during the second half of the College Football Playoff championship football game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Paul Sancya, Associated Press

Cameron Latu, Alabama

tight end

6-foot-5, 244 pounds.

  • Star ranking: 4-star prospect by both 247 Sports and Rivals coming out of Olympus High in the 2018 recruiting class. I have switched from defensive end to tight end at Alabama.
  • Where he’s selected in 2023 NFL mock drafts:
    No. 32 overall, Buffalo Bills — Pro Football Network
  • Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor wrote: “He came on strong last season as a pass catcher, but Latu is more than just an inline receiver. Latu had 8 touchdowns and showcased an ability to line up all over the Alabama offense.”

What other Utah connections show up in mock drafts?

  • Stanford quarterback Tanner McKeea member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who considered BYU, was the No. 6 overall pick in Pro Football Focus’ 2023 NFL mock draft.
  • While it wasn’t in a mock draft, The Athletic also identified some of the country’s top talents at each position, and Utah’s Dalton Kincaid was considered at tight end.

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