How many Utah ties could get selected in the 2023 NFL draft?
The NFL draft is less than a month away, with the 2023 version taking place April 27-29 in Kansas City.
It could be shaping up for another solid draft for Utah ties.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Jordan Reid created his own seven-round mock draft, making a prediction for all 259 picks in this year’s event.
There were 10 Utah ties selected in Reid’s mock draft.
That comes after there were three Utah ties taken in last year’s NFL draft — Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd to the Jacksonville Jaguars, BYU running back Tyler Allgeier to the Atlanta Falcons and Southern Utah and Murray High offensive tackle Braxton Jones to the Chicago Bears.
This year looks like it will be more like the 2020 and 2021 drafts, when there were 17 total Utah ties drafted over those two years — eight in 2021 and nine in 2020.
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What Utah ties were selected in ESPN’s Jordan Reid’s latest NFL mock draft?
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Round 2, Pick No. 38 to Las Vegas Raiders.
Reid wrote: “After the trade of Darren Waller, the Raiders added veterans Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard, but tight end remains one of the biggest holes on this roster. Kincaid would be a dynamic receiving option and a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. His pass-catching ability is arguably the best of any tight end in this class. He could quickly become a go-to target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.”
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU and Herriman High
Round 2, Pick No. 47 to Washington Commanders.
Reid wrote: “Big and quick blockers like Freeland rarely make it out of the second round. He has been compared to Brian O’Neill and Sam Cosmi. Freeland’s consistency as a pass protector — he allowed just one sack in 12 starts last season — could be appealing for the Commanders, who allowed 48 sacks last season, which was seventh-worst in the NFL. He could challenge Charles Leno at left tackle, but he also could move over to right tackle.”
Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Round 2, Pick No. 56 to Jacksonville Jaguars.
Reid wrote: “With Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams manning the outside corner spots, Phillips is an ideal nickel option in Jacksonville. His consistency as a tackler and playmaker on the ball make him an intriguing addition to a team that lacks a slot option. He picked off six passes for the Utes last season.”
Siaki Ika, DT, East High
Round 3, Pick No. 66 to Arizona Cardinals.
Reid wrote: “The Cardinals could commit to building from the inside out, spending assets in the trenches. Adding 6-3, 335-pound Ika here and Will Anderson Jr. at pick No. 3 would completely change the outlook of their defensive line.”
Braeden Daniels, OT, Utah
Round 3, Pick No. 81 to Detroit Lions.
Reid wrote: “The Lions could use more depth at guard. Halapoulivaati Vaitai recently took a pay cut, and they added Graham Glasgow in free agency. Daniels is a strong and mobile blocker who has experience at multiple spots. He started 43 games for the Utes, seeing time at right tackle, left tackle and left guard.”
Noah Sewell, LB, Orem High
Round 4, Pick No. 135 to New England Patriots.
Cameron Latu, TE, Olympus High
Round 5, Pick No. 161 to Houston Texans.
Puka Nacua, WR, BYU and Orem High
Round 6, Pick No. 180 to Arizona Cardinals.
Jaren Hall, QB, BYU and Maple Mountain High
Round 6, Pick No. 192 to New England Patriots.
Mohamoud Diabete, LB, Utah
Round 7, Pick No. 246 to Cincinnati Bengals.
Observations from Jordan Reid’s predictions
Many NFL draft experts have Kincaid as a mid-to-late first-round selection, so this would be a bit of a surprise if he fell to the early part of the second round. It’s clear, though, that Kincaid is the top prospect among Utah ties in this year’s draft class. Las Vegas, too, could be a place where Kincaid is able to get some early playing time.
Freeland has impressed teams with his performance and measurables at both the NFL combine and at BYU’s pro day. He is projected as a Day 2 draft pick by many, and Washington could be a good spot for Freeland to land. Another popular landing spot for Freeland is San Francisco.
At one point early in the 2022 college football season, Phillips looked like he could sneak into late first-round territory. He is still projected as one of the top cornerbacks in this draft and a Day 2 possibility, and landing in Jacksonville would reunite him with former Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd.
This is expected to be the Utes’ first multi-pick draft since 2020, when Utah had seven players drafted.
BYU is also expected to have multiple players drafted, with Freeland leading the way and Hall expected to be a Day 3 selection. Another popular mock draft pick for Hall has been the New Orleans Saints, where he could play alongside former Cougars Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams.
Ika, Sewell and Latu represent a strong contingent of Utah ties who played their high school ball in-state but played college in other parts of the country. Both Ika (who played at Baylor and LSU) and Sewell (Oregon) are seen by most as Day 2 selections, while Latu (Alabama) is likely a Day 3 pick in a deep tight end group.