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Big Ten Football: Top 10 2023 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is already projected to be the next Ohio State wide receiver that ends up being a first-round NFL draft pick

The Big Ten is coming off another productive NFL draft with 48 players selected, and the 2023 draft class looks to once again be pretty strong. As is usually the case, Ohio State is expected to have plenty of pro prospects on its roster this fall, and a good handful of them should be considered among the top draft prospects from the Big Ten that will be eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Penn State is coming off an incredible strong draft showing by leading the conference in total 2022 draft picks (eight), but that number will probably take a slight dip next year. Even so, the Nittany Lions have one of the top prospects to watch at the cornerback position. And the Maryland Terrapins could have two of the best draft prospects in the Big Ten at their respective positions.

2023 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

Here is a quick look ahead to 10 of the top potential draft prospects to watch for the 2023 NFL draft for the upcoming Big Ten football season.

Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland

Maryland will look forward to the return of a healthy Demus this fall after seeing a promising start to the 2021 season cut short by a season-ending injury. When healthy, he is one of the top receivers in the Big Ten.

Jaelyn Duncan, T, Maryland

The Terrapins also have one of the top offensive tackles in the conference. Already a heralded player as a two-time honorable mention for All-Big Ten and a preseason all-conference selection by Athlon Sports in 2021, Duncan is a massive (6-6, 320) body on the offensive line to help make things happen.

Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

The Buckeyes are once again loaded with talent, and once again the program has one of the top defensive ends to be watching in Harrison. He should continue Ohio State's strong history of disruptive defensive ends ready for the next level.

Paris Johnson Jr., T, Ohio State

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Ohio State has one of the top tackles in the country too. Johnson has some experience playing at guard as well, which will surely make him more attractive to some NFL scouts.

Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

LaPorta was second among Big Ten tight ends in receiving yards last season with 670 yards and three touchdowns. And don’t expect him to be any less productive in the Hawkeyes' offense this fall. He could once again be Iowa’s leading receiver.

Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

Already a prospect with NFL bloodlines (father Joey Porter Sr. was a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker during his 13-year career), Penn State’s top cornerback could benefit from avoiding a few untimely penalties. Porter will certainly have his opportunities to show what he can do in a conference with some good talent at receiver.

Lathan Ransom, S, Ohio State

Ohio State’s secondary is in good hands with Ransom patrolling the backfield, who is continuing to develop into one of the top safeties in the Big Ten and beyond. He is dealing with a leg injury suffered in last season's Rose Bowl that held him out of spring practice, so that bears watching. 

Peter Skoronski, T, Northwestern

Northwestern’s big man up front will be the highlight of the Wildcats this season, and he will have some good opportunities to showcase what he can do against some tough defensive linemen from around the Big Ten. There is even a chance Skrononski could be one of the top tackles off the board next spring.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Arguably the best wide receiver prospect in the nation, not just the Big Ten, will hail from the Ohio State offense. Smith-Njigba was considered by some to be the best receiver on the Buckeyes last season, a group that included first-round picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

And the quarterback getting Smith-Njigba the football could end up being the top quarterback prospect in the draft. Stroud could be lining up a big season throwing the football as he looks to build on his draft outlook this fall.

Honorable Mentions

Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
Dawand Jones, T, Ohio State
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Parker Washington, WR, Penn State

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— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, and Like him on Facebook.