The NFL Network released its top 100 players of 2023 over the last couple weeks. Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney looks back at them as recruits, closing out with 1-20. There were hits and misses along the way.
NFL TOP 100: Nos. 81-100 as high school recruits | Nos. 61-80 | Nos. 41-60 | 21-40
FINAL 2023 TEAM RANKINGS: Comprehensive (overall) ranking | High school/JUCO ranking | Transfer portal ranking
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1. Patrick Mahomes
Houston and Rice were Mahomes’ other offers, but when DJ Gillins de-committed from Texas Tech, the high three-star quarterback from Whitehouse, Texas, became the top option for then-Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury. Rated as the No. 12 dual-threat QB in his class that was led by five-star Deshaun Watson, Mahomes physically developed later and then starred at Texas Tech with 11,252 yards and 93 touchdowns in three seasons there. He was the No. 10 overall draft pick (and the second QB after Mitch Trubisky) as Mahomes has become arguably the best player in the league.
2. Justin Jefferson
Jefferson could not commit to LSU until months after signing day because of academic issues, and his only other offer was from Nicholls State, so the Destrehan, La., prospect was assigned a two-star ranking. He had two phenomenal seasons in Baton Rouge with 165 catches for 2,415 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to being the No. 22 pick in the 2020 draft. Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Jalen Reagor were the receivers taken before him. Jefferson is now considered one of the best players in the NFL.
3. Jalen Hurts
Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M were the four schools Hurts was most focused on late in his recruitment before picking the Crimson Tide in the summer before his senior season. Rated as the ninth-best dual-threat QB in the class that was led by five-star Shea Patterson, Hurts had a phenomenal career at Alabama but eventually lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa. He then transferred to Oklahoma, where he threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 20 more scores for the Sooners. He was a second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles and is now one of the best QBs – and overall players – in the NFL.
4. Nick Bosa
A five-star prospect who ranked No. 21 overall and second at strong-side defensive end behind only Jeffery Simmons, Ohio State was always considered the frontrunner and he committed there in the summer before his senior season. In 29 games with the Buckeyes Bosa tallied 77 tackles and 17.5 sacks before being the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, behind only Kyler Murray. Bosa has 143 tackles and 56 sacks so far in his NFL career.
5. Travis Kelce
A two-star athlete in the 2008 class, Kelce was the third quarterback taken in Cincinnati’s class as then-coach Brian Kelly told the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, prospect he’d get a shot there and if not would be moved elsewhere. Kelce eventually moved to tight end and in his career he caught just 59 passes for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kelce was a third-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs and is now one of the best players in the game.
6. Joe Burrow
A mid-level three-star prospect, Burrow signed with Ohio State and was a backup to JT Barrett, but then lost out on the starting job to Dwayne Haskins, so he transferred to LSU. Whether testing him in practice or being blunt, then-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Burrow was a “D-II quarterback” and “throws like a girl.” Burrow was incredible at LSU, especially in 2019 when he threw for 5,671 yards with 60 touchdowns and only six picks, won the Heisman and a national title. Burrow was the top pick in the 2020 draft and has already thrown for 11,774 yards and 82 touchdowns in the NFL.
7. Tyreek Hill
A mid-level four-star coming out of Garden City (Kan.) Garden City CC, Hill picked Oklahoma State over USC, Alabama and Florida State, but he only played one season in Stillwater because of legal issues and he finished his college career at West Alabama. He was used all over the field at West Alabama, but was really hot and cold there before being picked in the fifth round. So far in Hill’s NFL career, he has 598 catches for 10,480 total yards and 76 TDs.
8. Josh Allen
Coming out of high school, Allen tried unsuccessfully to get a scholarship to Fresno State and then San Diego State offered a walk-on spot that Allen turned down. He instead went to junior college and then transferred to Wyoming, where he threw for 5,015 yards and 44 touchdowns in his final two seasons. The two-star was the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft and was the third QB taken after Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold.
9. Micah Parsons
A five-star linebacker who finished sixth overall in the 2018 rankings, the Harrisburg, Pa., standout originally picked Penn State but backed off that pledge. Ohio State looked like it would land Parsons, but after being let on the ESPN College Gameday set to take a picture with Kirk Herbstreit, a former Ohio State player, that was deemed against NCAA rules and the Buckeyes were out. He ended up signing with the Nittany Lions, where he had 191 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Parsons was the No. 12 overall pick and has been a star for the Dallas Cowboys.
10. Chris Jones
The Houston, Miss., standout committed to Mississippi State before summer camp and basically shut down his recruitment. Jones ended up as a five-star prospect and the second-best defensive end in the class behind No. 1 overall player Robert Nkemdiche. In three seasons, Jones had 102 tackles but only 8.5 sacks and then he became an early second-round round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s now a Super Bowl champion and has 243 tackles and 65 sacks so far.
11. Aaron Donald
A high three-star prospect in the 2010 class, Donald now looks like one of the all-time misses in Rivals history, but at the time his commitment to Pitt didn’t draw much fanfare as he chose the Panthers over Rutgers, Toledo and Akron. He played in all 13 games as a freshman but had only two sacks and then developed into one of the best defensive tackles in college football with 168 tackles and 27.5 sacks in his final three seasons. Donald was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 draft and the first DT taken off the board. He has 490 tackles, 103 sacks and 24 forced fumbles so far in his career.
12. Josh Jacobs
The Tulsa (Okla.) McLain running back had no offers in December of his senior season, even after rushing for 2,704 yards and 31 touchdowns that season. Then Wyoming and New Mexico State got involved. Things picked up dramatically after the New Year as Alabama, Oklahoma and Missouri got involved and he picked the Crimson Tide in early February. In 40 games, the three-star prospect rushed for 1,491 yards and 16 TDs at Alabama and then was a late first-round pick in 2019, the only first-round RB taken despite not having gaudy stats in Tuscaloosa. Jacobs was the NFL rushing yards leader last season.
13. Davante Adams
Adams was a two-star prospect who picked Fresno State over San Diego State, his only other offer, despite catching 64 passes for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and leading his team to a state title in his senior season. After a redshirt year, Adams was heavily used in the Bulldogs’ offense, where he caught 233 passes for 3,031 yards and 38 TDs in two seasons and then he became a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers. Now close to a decade in the league, Adams has totaled 769 receptions for 9,637 yards and 87 TDs.
14. Trent Williams
A high three-star prospect, Oklahoma beat out Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others as Texas never offered the Longview, Texas, standout. Williams ended up being the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft behind only Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy and he’s been one of the best offensive linemen in the league for more than a decade.
15. Fred Warner
The four-star linebacker committed to BYU in the spring before his senior season and even though USC, Nebraska and Washington continued to pursue him Warner stuck with the Cougars. In four seasons at BYU, Warner totaled 264 tackles, seven interceptions and 6.5 sacks before being picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round. He’s been incredibly productive in the league, with 634 tackles so far.
16. Stefon Diggs
Maryland landed the Olney (Md.) Good Counsel standout as he announced his commitment from College Park, but Florida, Ohio State and Auburn also battled for the five-star receiver. The only receiver rated higher in the 2012 class was No. 1 overall Dorial Green-Beckham. Diggs caught 150 passes for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons (his freshman year was his best) before being selected in the fifth round. The former five-star has 703 catches for 8,812 yards and 59 TDs in his career.
17. Maxx Crosby
Crosby was a two-star prospect out of Colleyville (Texas) Heritage whose only offer came from Eastern Michigan. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft and has played for the Las Vegas Raiders, with whom he’s tallied 231 tackles, 37.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles already in his career.
18. Minkah Fitzpatrick
There was a long list of schools involved with Fitzpatrick, including Ohio State, Georgia, Florida State and many others, but during his trip to Alabama’s spring game, the five-star safety committed to the Crimson Tide. Rated No. 24 overall, the only safety higher in the 2015 class was Derwin James. Fitzpatrick totaled 171 tackles, nine interceptions and five sacks in Tuscaloosa before going No. 11 overall in the 2018 draft to the Miami Dolphins. Now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he’s tallied 448 tackles and 19 picks in the NFL.
19. George Kittle
Kittle chose Iowa over Air Force, his only other offer. Kittle was a legacy since his father, Bruce, played for the Hawkeyes and he was a coach as Kittle was a low three-star from Norman, Okla. Kittle didn’t really have a massive impact at Iowa. In over five seasons he totaled just 48 catches for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns before being a fifth-round draft pick. Things really took off in the NFL, and now he’s considered one of the biggest offensive weapons in the game.
20. Myles Garrett
A five-star prospect out of Arlington (Texas) Martin, Texas A&M beat out Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and others for Garrett, who was the most dominant player in the 2014 class but was ranked second behind Da’Shawn Hand. Garrett dominated for the Aggies and finished with 145 tackles and 32.5 sacks in three seasons before being the top pick in the 2017 draft. The NFL hasn’t slowed him down, either, as the former five-star has 74.5 sacks there.