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2023 NFL Draft: 5 Players Who Could Explode This Season Pt. 3

Highlighting another five college football talents who could outperform their current expectations and fly up draft boards ahead of the 2023 NFL draft.
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College football is edging closer, which means preparing for another season of talent emerging across the country. Here are five more of my favorite breakout talents ahead of the 2023 NFL draft. 

QB K.J. Jefferson, Arkansas

K.J. Jefferson had one of the best college football seasons the Arkansas Razorbacks have seen in recent years. In his first year as the starting quarterback, Jefferson threw for 2,574 yards and 21 touchdowns to only three interceptions. He was a key contributor to Treylon Burks becoming a first-round draft pick this off-season and has fans excited about his potential ahead of the 2023 draft.

His 66.3% completion percentage ranked fourth in the SEC as he led the Razorbacks to an 8-4 record. The six-foot-three 240-pound quarterback is excellent when he takes off, adding another 669 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. 

Credit: Razorbacks Wire

Credit: Razorbacks Wire

Jefferson made a huge impact in his first year starting, and the expectation is for him to take that even further in 2022. NFL franchises could be very interested if he can build upon his 2021 campaign. His throw ability and athleticism make him a very intriguing talent this year. 

WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

Marvin Mims will play with his third starting quarterback in three seasons at Oklahoma. As a freshman, Mims caught seven touchdowns on just 29 catches and 482 receiving yards. In his second season in 2021, another 30 receptions, this time for 648 yards and 21.6 yards per catch. He'll be a junior in 2022 and only turned 20 years old in March.

The Sooners will now start their third quarterback during Mims' time on campus, and it's former UCF QB, Dillon Gabriel. 

The question for Mims is the volume. The Sooners have spread the ball around, with no receiver having more than 39 targets in 2021. So Mims needs to make the most of his opportunities when he gets them.

He converted to playing a higher percentage of his snaps in the slot in 2021 and is expected to continue in that role in 2022. Mims could climb draft boards in a hurry with great downfield concentration and excellent production over the middle of the field.

WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

Zay Flowers has been getting better and better in his three seasons at Boston College. Entering year four, the sky is the limit for his talent and draft stock. 

His starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec suffered a hand injury in early September that meant he missed weeks three through nine of the 2021 season. The Eagles struggled during that time, and Flowers was only able to haul in one touchdown in five games without Jurkovec on the field. 

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With Jurkovec back to full fitness this year, the two could combine for big numbers. Flowers has displayed his abilities against the best teams in the ACC. The five-foot-ten wideout uses his speed and twitchy play style to gain big yards after the catch and could be a real player at the next level. 

EDGE, Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington

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Tupuola-Fetui has all the talent to make it at the next level. The Washington edge rusher has been plagued by injuries over the past couple of seasons and is heading into year five, hoping for a full season to display his skill set. 

Tupuola-Fetui made an impact in 2020, with seven sacks in just four starts for the Huskies, but his 2021 campaign was a write-off. He had surgery on his Achilles in April and returned six months later to make his debut against UCLA. 

The Washington Huskies had a down year in 2021, finishing the season with a 4-8 record. Tupuola-Fetui admittedly struggled to get back into the swing of things, having been so focused on recovering from the Achilles injury. Then four games later, he suffered a concussion that kept him sidelined for the Huskies' two remaining games. 2021 

In 2022, Tupuola-Fetui will be hoping for a healthy season. On talent alone, he's a very intriguing prospect, and he has not played a full season of college football as a starter. If he puts a productive campaign together in 2022, there's a good shot. The Huskies' pass rushers' draft stock takes a big leap.

RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

Charbonnet was excellent in his freshman year in 2019, with 11 touchdowns for the Michigan Wolverines. He led the team in rushing with 726 yards on 136 carries but was dealing with injuries throughout the season. 

It seemed as though Charbonnet was about to become a Michigan Wolverine star, but the following season he was barely used, with just 19 carries, and ultimately transferred to UCLA.

In 2021, his first season with the Bruins, Charbonnet was electric. He instantly made his mark with a three-touchdown performance against Hawaii in the opening game of the college football season. He went on to have 1,153 yards and 13 touchdowns and is now one of the hottest running back prospects ahead of the draft.

He makes this list because his estimated draft grade is still in the middle of the third round. If he can replicate his 2021 performance, he should be an early day two pick at the very least.

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