NFL Draft risers and fallers: Anthony Richardson, Jalen Carter among biggest 2023 pro days winners, losers

Jalen Carter

NFL Pro Days — post-combine college campus workouts by NFL draft prospects — can have a profound impact on a player’s draft inventory.

If a player performs well on positional and other drills, they can confirm what teams saw at the combine or off the tape. Should that player underperform, especially without prior training, they may slide down the draft boards.

With the majority of 2023’s pro days on the books, including the top four quarterbacks in the class — Alabama’s Bryce Young, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis — Sporting News is breaking down the biggest movers or loser on:

NFL DRAFT: SN’s Latest 2023 Mock Draft | The 125 best prospects

NFL Pro Days winners and losers

Winner: Anthony Richardson, QB, Fla

Richardson had reason to celebrate with another backflip for destroying his Gainesville practice as an extension of how he blinded a much larger panel of judges at Combine. Richardson no longer needed to show off his running and jumping, but he did far more to excite with just his passing game. He has a real shot at becoming the Panthers’ No. 1 after coach Frank Reich was in Gainesville to rave about Richardson’s ceiling.

MORE: Anthony Richardson’s NFL player comparisons breakdown

Loser: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Carter is no longer in the game for the No. 1 pick as the Panthers went up for a quarterback. It also doesn’t appear that he’ll be the first defender off the board, as high as the Cardinals’ No. 3 overall.

Carter couldn’t compete at the Combine because it was timed that he was facing offense races and reckless driving charges that he had to address. When he got the chance to train in Athens on March 15, he got off to a good start before breaking off as he got deeper into his positional drills.

Carter probably hasn’t slipped out of the top 10 because his explosive upside potential leads a weak defensive tackle class. But he doesn’t have that “can’t miss” feeling he had right after the Bulldogs repeated as the defensive national champion.

Jalen Carter

Winner: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Let’s bring the whole conversation about its lack of ideal size to the table. Focus on the fact that Young, who wasn’t training with his best QBmates at the Combine, picked up where he left off in a field in Tuscaloosa with uncanny playmakers and intangibles.

Young showed his accuracy, quick decision-making with a dash of his special improvisational skills. He also recalled his ease of execution at a pro level and methodically impressed.

MORE: Takeaways from Bryce Young’s NFL Pro Day

Loser: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

The biggest thing the tight end of draft consensus #2 (behind Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer) has lost is precious time. Kincaid, who sat out Combine training with an ongoing back injury, couldn’t be ready to perform the necessary drills on his Pro Day. Since this durability uncertainty isn’t meant to be resolved until after draft, it could discourage multiple teams from targeting Kincaid in the first round.

When Rob Gronkowski fell out in the second round (#42 Patriots) in 2010, there was a similar concern with a similar injury. The difference was that Gronk’s last issue obliterated his final college season; Kincaid was injured late and was able to play for the Utes in the Pac-12 championship on December 1.

Will Levis

Winner: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

Let’s go three-on-three on the QBs who had to answer the most questions, as Stroud has been “what you see is what you get” since his emergence at Ohio State. Levis got his big arm through again in Lexington, this time showing off a stronger and stronger physique, reminding everyone that he has his own brand of effective athletics.

Levis doesn’t have the same earnings and production résumé as Young or Stroud from college, or Richardson’s Boundless Blanket. He will still be the fourth QB off the board, as high as No. 6 for the Lions, replacing Jared Goff.

MORE: Takeaways from Will Levis’ NFL pro tag

Losers: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee

Hooker recently got first-round hype to join the four QBs above. But it’s time to hit the brakes. He was only able to do limited soft passing on his pro day while still recovering from a cruciate ligament tear he sustained with the Volunteers last November.

Hooker took the opportunity to meet and speak to more teams, but those teams are still concerned about how he might react after suffering a knee injury. Hooker, who turned 25 in January, is still a Day 2 pick.

Zay flowers

Winner: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Flowers is working to prove to NFL evaluators that he’s much more than a slot receiver. It’s hard to ignore the fact that his quickness and speed, which he has shown again on his pro day, gives him some No. 1 potential on the outside. His 5-9 frame is becoming less of an issue as he draws worthy comparisons to the Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett.

Flowers now has a strong shot at being the fourth wideout to be drafted in the first round behind USC’s Jordan Addison, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and TCU’s Quentin Johnston.

Losers: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU

Boutte struggled with the Combine’s agility drills and didn’t perform enough positionally to stand out from Flowers and others. However, Boutte felt he didn’t need to show more jumping and running on his pro day to rebuild his stock. That probably leaves him looking at the late second-round pick at best.

Dave Gallo

Dave Gallo is a pioneering sports analytics expert, renowned for his revolutionary work in AI-driven sports simulations, projections, and advanced statistical analysis. With a profound passion for sports and technology, he crafts cutting-edge computer models that accurately predict outcomes. Dave's game-changing insights have reshaped strategy, player evaluation, and decision-making across various sports. His dynamic presentations make complex analytics accessible and inspiring, ensuring his legacy as a visionary in sports analytics. Check out Dave's Pick Record.

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