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2023 NFL draft: 12 Utah ties included on Mel Kiper’s early big board rankings

If Mel Kiper Jr.’s first big board for next year’s NFL draft is any indication, it could be a very good year for Utah talent in 2023.

The ESPN NFL draft expert released his early big board and position rankings for next year’s draft on Tuesday — just a month after the end of the 2022 draft — and many ties to the Beehive State appear, including two players who made Kiper’s list of the top 25 talents.

It’s important to note that not every player on these kinds of lists will end up being in a position to be drafted next year. Many of them are underclassmen, for example, and would have to declare to become draft eligible next year.

Kiper also noted that the evaluation process is still early — the 2022 college football season is still three months away — and he will get things wrong with some prospects.

“On some of these guys, I’m projecting what they could do this season, which means they have a high ceiling but still need to reach it on the field,” he wrote.

Still, Kiper’s big board provides an early evaluation for names to watch in the upcoming season.

What Utah ties made Mel Kiper’s top 25 prospects list for the 2023 NFL draft?

Siaki Ika, defensive tackle

East High.No. 16 overall.The Baylor and former LSU defensive lineman will be a junior this season, and he had four sacks from the interior of the line in 2022.“He has rare quickness and explosiveness for a 350-pound player. He’s like a piece of granite on the interior of the defensive line; he can’t be moved,” Kiper wrote.

Noah Sewell, inside linebacker

Orem High.No. 23 overall.Sewell, the younger brother of Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell who is headed into his third season at Oregon, was a five-star prospect coming out of Orem. He had 114 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception last season.“Sewell flies around the field and has sideline-to-sideline range. He tracks quarterbacks well when that’s his assignment, and he can make tackles in space,” Kiper wrote.

What Utah ties made Mel Kiper’s offensive position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft?

Quarterback

No. 6, BYU and Maple Mountain High’s Jaren Hall.

Fullback/h-back

No. 7, Utah’s Brant Kuithe.

Tight end

No. 3, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid.No. 6, Olympus High’s Cameron Latu (plays at Alabama).No. 10, BYU’s Isaac Rex.

Offensive tackle

No. 3, BYU and Herriman High’s Blake Freeland.

Guard

No. 4, Utah’s Braeden Daniels.No. 6, BYU’s Clark Barrington.

What Utah ties made Mel Kiper’s defensive position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft?

Defensive tackle

No. 3, East High’s Siaki Ika (plays at Baylor).

Inside linebacker

No. 1, Orem High’s Noah Sewell (plays at Oregon).No. 6, Utah’s Mohamoud Diabate.

Cornerback

No. 4, Utah’s Clark Phillips III.

Notable items about Utah ties on Mel Kiper’s big board rankings

Hall, who will be a junior this season, is the first QB in Kiper’s top 10 at the position that sits outside his top 25 overall prospects. Hall is also one spot ahead of Stanford’s Tanner McKee, a onetime BYU recruit who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Kiper lists Kuithe as a fullback option, though he plays at tight end for Utah. Utah ties make up 30% of the tight end position rankings.Diabate joined the Utes as a transfer from Florida this offseason, and his addition gives Utah a state-leading five players in the top 10 position rankings.BYU has four players included in Kiper’s position rankings.In early 2023 mock drafts from about a month ago, Sewell led the way among Utah ties with the best chance at becoming a first-round draft pick, followed by Phillips.

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