Top NFL draft prospects to watch include Blake Corum, Charlie Jones

Who are the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the 2022 Big Ten Championship game? While not Michigan-Ohio State, the Michigan vs. Purdue clash pits a surprising number of 2023 NFL Draft talent against each other.

The best NFL draft prospects to watch in the 2022 Big Ten Championship Game

Purdue Perspectives Project

Purdue may be less prestigious, but the Boilermakers are a well-trained team and they quietly have a wealth of talent heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. That talent is mostly concentrated on offense, but there are prospects to watch on the defensive end as well.

WR charlie jones

Charlie Jones has been one of the most prolific wide receiver prospects in 2022, posting 97 receptions for 1,199 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. He is a former return specialist from Iowa who became a dominant splitter and received threats for the Boilermakers. At 6’0″, 188 pounds, the Senior Bowl commitment is a decent size, but Jones’ sheer high-level tinge throughout all phases is what makes him consistent hard coverage.

QB Aidan O’Connell

Aidan O’Connell has fans in the NFL community. As an aging rookie without much functional mobility, O’Connell’s ceiling is a bit limited, but he has the feel of a signal caller who will stick around in a pro quarterback room for a long time.

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Qualities like pocket balance, accuracy, touch, and active ability as a dealer can make him dangerous to defenses. O’Connell gets the ball out quickly against pressure, but can also stress the field with his placement.

T. E. Payne Durham

Set to join teammates O’Connell and Cory Trice in the Shrine Bowl, Payne Durham is one of the most productive tight ends in college football. His stat line of 54 catches for 550 yards and eight touchdowns is a reflection of his unerring skill set.

Durham is a solid athlete who has shown that ability both as a spreader and after the catch, but his playing strength at the catch point, stemming from his 6’5″, 255-pound frame, is another huge asset.

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CB Cory Trice

A late-season injury sustained in early 2021 prevented Trice from showing up a year early. But now healthy, the 6’3″, 215-pound cornerback has been a standout star on the Boilermakers’ defense.

He has two interceptions and nine pass deflections after facing a tough schedule. For his size, Trice has some very impressive fluidity, which serves to develop his length and physicality at the point of capture.

LB Jalen Graham

The Wolverines’ offense has plenty of potential threats, both in the running game and the passing game. By extension, versatile hybrid linebacker Jalen Graham will shoulder much of the load when it comes to stopping Michigan’s attack.

At 6’3″, 220 pounds, Graham blends the line between the positions. He plays best in the box, where he can excel at zone coverage and explode downhill with physicality. But he also has the athleticism and coverage ability to play in the overhang slot and break on short passes.

Michigan Prospects Project

It’s no surprise that Michigan is a 2022 Big Ten Championship entrant and a guaranteed playoff team if they win. The Wolverines are packed with talent on both sides of the ball, with future NFL playmakers at every level.

C Olusegun Oluwatimi

No player has been mentioned more frequently on the NFP Team of the Week than Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi this year. After transferring from Virginia, Oluwatimi had an absolutely dominant season for the Wolverines, capped off by a strong performance against Ohio State.

Interestingly, Oluwatimi doesn’t have elite physical traits, but he is a strong and powerful inside blocker with great awareness, physicality, and discipline with his assignments.

RB Blake Corum

Sometimes evoking memories of Muscle Hamster, Blake Corum inspires awe with his natural running ability and engaging playstyle. That’s been the driving force behind his 247-carry, 1,463-yard, 18-touchdown season, and it’s a very portable style to the next level.

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Corum is explosive, agile and fast, but also incredibly dense, physical and well used in contact situations. He also has the vision to traverse narrow lanes and reach space.

DT Mazi Smith

The features are attractive with Mazi Smith being a freak athlete at 6’3″, 330lbs. She catches her eye seeing flashes of her as a pass rusher. Players his size shouldn’t have the level of juice he does.

Smith continues to look for more consistency in both phases. Especially as a run defender, even with his framework, he can give up influence and positioning at times. But his raw combination of athleticism, strength and power is almost too much to deal with 1v1.

CB DJ Turner

Purdue’s Jones has frequently drawn the ire of quality corner prospects this season, including Syracuse’s Garrett Williams and Northwestern’s Cameron Mitchell. It will also be a tough test for DJ Turner, but Turner can really add to his value with a standout game against Jones.

Turner has been streaky at times this year, but all the building blocks are there for him to be a starting NFL CB. He offers elite recovery speed, foot quickness and fluidity, and has shown great playmaking ability on both phases.

WR Cornelius Johnson

He’s a deep sleeper in the NFL’s 2023 WR Draft class, but all eyes will be on Cornelius Johnson against a fellow 6’3″ athlete in Trice, after Johnson’s breakout game against Ohio State.

Johnson had 160 yards and two touchdowns on four catches against the Buckeyes, using his ability to run fluid routes and explosive athleticism to frequently find holes on the field. He and JJ McCarthy are starting to click, and Johnson has the high-level traits and full skill set to benefit from being a late-cycle upstart.

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