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2023 NFL Draft: Reacting to the 2022 Preseason All-Pac-12 Team

The Pac-12 recently released its preseason all-conference picks. How well do these selections match up with the players who might hear their names called in the 2023 NFL Draft?

As July turns to August, college football's top conferences are getting ready for the season to start. Although USC and UCLA are slated to depart for the Big Ten in 2024, the Pac-12 is hoping for a banner year. As it does each summer, the conference recently released its media-selected all-conference preseason teams. This article reacts to the media's all-Pac-12 first-team picks with an eye toward the 2023 NFL Draft.

To see the full press release and the team from the Pac-12, click here. (This article only discusses the first team, but the Pac-12 also released a second team and a group of "honorable mention" players.)

Offense

The all-Pac-12 backfield features the two-headed monster of UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet and Utah running back Tavion Thomas. Charbonnet is currently getting a lot of hype as a 2023 draft prospect; he is among the better backs in the 2023 class, given his complete skill set. He is a strong, downhill runner who bounces off would-be tacklers and is faster than his feet look on film. In the middle rounds, he would add value to a team.

Meanwhile, Thomas is a special player. He possesses great ball carrier vision and hits the hole quickly. Thomas will benefit significantly from putting together another year of film. The thing is: It's not even clear that he will declare for the draft after the 2022 season. But watch for Thomas to put up gaudy numbers again in a Utah offense built to showcase his talents.

JORDAN ADDISON

Perhaps the most promising prospect on the offensive side of the ball, USC wide receiver Jordan Addison figures to go in the first round of next year's draft. He is coming off of a remarkable 2021 campaign at Pittsburgh as 2022 first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett's main target. Addison won the Biletnikoff Award for his efforts last season and now joins a USC offense that could be one of the best in college football. Although he is a bit skinny, Addison has great speed, excellent hands, and solid route running at all levels of the route tree.

Utah tight end Brant Kuithe is not a surefire early-round pick, but he is an intriguing weapon who could make an impact depending on a team's scheme. Kuithe is listed at six-foot-two and projects as more of an H-back-type of player. He is a prolific receiver who should get an opportunity to contribute somewhere—think of former NFL tight end/fullback James Casey for a rough comparison.

jaxson kirkland

The offensive line has a few draftable players. Washington tackle Jaxson Kirkland is a mountain of a man, listed at six-foot-seven, 340 pounds. He should be a top-flight blindside protector in the NFL, assuming he can stay healthy. But his teammates love him, he is excellent when he plays, and he has some versatility (having played right guard earlier in his college career). The injury concerns will knock him down in the draft, but some teams will undoubtedly take a chance.

USC tackle/guard Andrew Vorhees and the Oregon duo of T.J. Bass and Alex Forsyth all figure to get drafted (probably in the middle to late rounds). At the same time, Utah interior offensive lineman Braeden Daniels will need another strong season to garner consideration.

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Defense

USC iDL Tuli Tuipulotu

The Pac-12 defense is scary good.

The big name to know on the defensive line is Tuli Tuipulotu of USC. He racked up big numbers in 2021 and looks like a classic defensive tackle in a 4-3 front (or perhaps a 3-4 defensive end). His ability to finish plays when he gets into the backfield is quite impressive. He is probably in the second-round mix but could jump into the first round if he shows out for the Trojans this season.

At linebacker, Oregon's Noah Sewell is one of the best players in the nation. He is almost certain to get picked in the top half of the first round, assuming he has another Sewell-esque season. His athletic capabilities are off-the-charts, he is a tackling machine, and he can go sideline-to-sideline. Sewell will enter the league as someone who can immediately match up against pro-level players. He has demonstrated that he is a blue-chip prospect.

Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights and California linebacker Jackson Sirmon are just outside the draft conversation but could work their way into the mix with big seasons.

Kyu Blu Kelly Stanford

Finally, three of the four first-team defensive backs are almost certain to get drafted in 2023. Starting with cornerbacks Kyu Blu Kelly of Stanford and Clark Phillips III of Utah, the Pac-12 boasts two first-round caliber corners on the preseason all-conference team. Kelly is becoming one of my favorite players in the 2023 draft class; he plays the game with extraordinary intensity, manhandles receivers, and impresses with his body control in the air. At the same time, Phillips can play and is at his best when matching up against quicker wideouts or facing complex route combinations.

At the same time, California safety Daniel Scott is one of the most underrated players in the country. Thankfully, he was recognized on this all-conference team. Scott makes a ton of tackles in the secondary and jumps off the screen when watching film of Cal's defense. He is probably a middle-round talent who will get more attention as the season progresses.

The Pac-12 will be fun to watch this season, given the many players in the conference who will likely get drafted. The preseason all-conference first team merely scratches the surface when evaluating the best players in the West, but it's a good place to start.

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