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, moving to the middle of the group from 41-60, as there were hits and misses along the way.
NFL TOP 100: Nos. 81-100 as high school recruits | Nos. 61-80
FINAL 2023 TEAM RANKINGS: Comprehensive (overall) ranking | High school/JUCO ranking | Transfer portal ranking
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
TRANSFER PORTAL: Latest news | Transfer portal player ranking | Transfer portal team ranking | Transfer Tracker | Message board
41. Lane Johnson
Johnson went from under-the-radar and unranked quarterback in high school to junior college tight end and then eventually the offensive line at Oklahoma. Out of Kilgore (Texas) Kilgore CC, Johnson was tried at defensive end and tight end but made the move to the O-line with the Sooners and blossomed from there. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and has started in every game he’s played – 127 in total.
42. Kirk Cousins
A low three-star coming out of Holland (Mich.) Holland Christian, Cousins had UConn, Western Michigan and Toledo as his three favorites before Michigan State hired Mark Dantonio and the Spartans offered late in the process. Cousins ended up throwing for 9,131 yards with 66 touchdowns and 30 picks before being a fourth-round draft pick. First with the Washington Commanders and now the Minnesota Vikings, Cousins has become of the league’s best quarterbacks and has thrown for more than 37,000 yards.
43. Demario Davis
Davis was a two-star linebacker in the 2007 class but was mainly a wide receiver through his sophomore and junior years at Brandon, Miss. Arkansas State was his lone offer and he starred there before being a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Since coming into the league a decade ago Davis has totaled 1,136 tackles and 36 sacks.
44. Jaylen Waddle
Alabama beat mainly Texas A&M but many others for Waddle, who earned his five-star ranking after proving to be too fast and too talented at the Army All-American Bowl. That 2018 class had seven five-star receivers as some panned out like Waddle and Amon-Ra St. Brown, while others didn’t (Mark Pope, Justin Shorter, etc.). With the Crimson Tide, Waddle caught 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons before being the sixth overall pick in the 2021 draft. He’s now one of the best young receivers in the league – and one of the fastest as well.
45. Cameron Heyward
A four-star defensive tackle in the 2007 class and a Rivals250 member, Heyward committed to Ohio State over Florida and Georgia. Over four years in Columbus, the former Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge standout totaled 163 tackles and 15.5 sacks and then was a late first-round draft pick in 2011. He’s spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has 614 tackles and 78.5 sacks there.
46. C.J. Mosley
Mosley took official visits to Alabama and Auburn, but the Crimson Tide were always the frontrunner and the Theodore, Ala., four-star who finished No. 56 overall and as the sixth-best outside linebacker in 2010 committed to them at the Army All-American Bowl. The four-star had 215 tackles in his final two seasons in Tuscaloosa and then went on to become the No. 17 overall pick in the 2014 draft. First with the Baltimore Ravens and now the New York Jets, Mosley has 914 tackles and 46 pass deflections so far in his career.
47. Cooper Kupp
Kupp is one of the biggest misses in at least a decade at Rivals – but he was also one of the biggest recruiting misses by every coach across the country. The Yakima (Wash.) AC Davis unranked receiver didn’t land any offers until after his senior season and they came from Eastern Washington and Idaho State. At EWU, Kupp caught 428 passes for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns before getting picked in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams. He’s already become a Super Bowl champ, Super Bowl MVP and one of the league’s best receivers.
48. Haason Reddick
After playing in only four games in his senior season at Haddon Heights, N.J., because of injury, Reddick walked-on at Temple and did not have a Rivals profile. In his senior season, Reddick finished with 65 tackles and 10.5 sacks at defensive end after starting out as a running back and linebacker. The unranked Reddick was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 draft and he has totaled 372 tackles and 47 sacks so far in his career.
49. Patrick Surtain
LSU was considered the favorite for a long time and Florida State and Ohio State made runs, but in the end the five-star cornerback from Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage committed to Alabama. He was the top-rated cornerback in the 2018 class and the second-best prospect in the state of Florida behind Clemson’s Xavier Thomas. After a very solid career at Alabama, Surtain went ninth overall in the 2021 draft and was the second corner off the board after South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Now Surtain is considered one of the best young corners in the league.
50. Cameron Jordan
Arizona, Cal, Colorado and Oregon State were the four finalists for the three-star prospect, and the Golden Bears won out in late January shortly before signing day. He remained a three-star despite posting 85 tackles and 17.5 sacks in his senior season at Chandler, Ariz., and coming from an NFL lineage. Still, Jordan then finished with 175 tackles and 16.5 sacks over four years at Cal before being the No. 24 overall pick in 2011. Spending more than a decade all with the New Orleans Saints, Jordan has totaled 639 tackles and 115.5 sacks in his illustrious NFL career.
51. Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers attended Chico (Calif.) Pleasant Valley before the Rivals era, but if there were rankings he would have been a five-star. Kidding. Rodgers was a 5-foot-10, 165-pound prospect who garnered very little recruiting attention and no offers, so he went to Oroville (Calif.) Butte College after he decided to continue his football career. He then transferred to Cal, where he threw for 5,469 yards with 43 TDs and 13 INTs over two seasons before being the No. 24 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rodgers has become a future Hall of Famer, one of the league’s best QBs ever and a Super Bowl champion among many other accolades.
52. Jonathan Allen
Alabama beat Florida, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech for the five-star defensive end from Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge who was highly-ranked and only backed it up every step of the way. Allen was the second-best strong-side defensive end in the 2013 class behind only Carl Lawson and then went to Alabama, where he finished with 152 tackles and 28 sacks over his career. The five-star was then the No. 17 overall pick in the 2017 draft and he’s totaled 329 tackles and 33.5 sacks with the Washington Commanders.
53. Mike Evans
Evans didn’t start playing football until his senior season at Galveston (Texas) Ball as he picked Texas A&M over Colorado State and Tulane, his only other offers. In College Station, Evans was a star and in two seasons he caught 151 passes for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns. The low three-star was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. His entire career has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he’s won a Super Bowl and has more than 10,000 receiving yards.
54. Brian Burns
The high four-star from Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage chose Florida State over Florida and Georgia on signing day as he was the No. 65 prospect overall and the fourth-best weak-side defensive end in the 2016 class. Burns shined with the Seminoles and totaled 123 tackles and 23 sacks over three seasons before becoming the No. 16 pick in the 2019 draft. With the Carolina Panthers, Burns has tallied 196 tackles and 38 sacks.
55. Tony Pollard
Rated as a two-star cornerback out of Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose, Pollard committed to Memphis over his only other offer – Austin Peay. He played offense for the Tigers but had more receiving touchdowns (12) than rushing ones (9) during his career before being a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. Pollard has now emerged as RB1 of the Dallas Cowboys.
56. Dak Prescott
After landing a Mississippi State offer at summer camp, the three-star from Haughton, La., committed soon after over offers from Memphis, North Texas and other lower-level schools. In Starkville, Prescott led the Bulldogs to their first No. 1 ranking in school history and he ended up throwing for 9,376 yards with 70 touchdowns and 23 INTs and rushing for 2,521 yards and 41 scores. Prescott was a fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he was the rookie of the year and is still the starter.
57. Jordan Poyer
A two-star cornerback from Astoria, Ore., Poyer committed to Oregon State over offers from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Portland State. He played offense, defense and special teams for the Beavers and then became a seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft. In a pro career that’s spanned a decade, Poyer has totaled 706 tackles, 24 interceptions and 50 pass deflections.
58. Jeffery Simmons
A five-star prospect who was the top-ranked strong-side defensive end in the 2016 class, Simmons chose Mississippi State over Ole Miss and Alabama. Simmons was excellent at the Army All-American Bowl and played very well in Starkville with 163 tackles but only seven sacks in three seasons. The five-star was still the No. 19 pick in the 2019 draft and has spent his entire career with the Tennessee Titans. Simmons has 189 tackles and 21 sacks so far.
59. Justin Simmons
Simmons committed to coach Ryan Day – but when Day was at Boston College prior to his job at Ohio State. Purdue, Illinois, FIU and others were recruiting the three-star safety from Stuart (Fla.) Martin County, but the Eagles were involved for the longest. After playing both safety and cornerback in Chestnut Hill, Simmons was a third-round pick in the 2016 draft by the Denver Broncos, where he’s spent his entire career and has totaled 534 tackles and 27 interceptions.
60. Trevon Diggs
Rated as a mid-level four-star receiver in the 2016 class, Diggs picked Alabama over Maryland (where his brother, Stefon, played), LSU, Clemson, West Virginia and others. He played in all three phases once he got to Tuscaloosa and then moved to corner full time. Diggs was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he’s tallied 169 tackles and 17 picks so far.