It has been only one week since the 2022 NFL Draft rocked the landscape of the league with trades and the addition of young, elite talent, and yet the attention has already shifted towards the 2023 NFL Draft.
The quarterback class of 2023 should be stronger and more elite, as it will likely be led by Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winner Bryce Young and 2021 First-Team All-Big Ten selection C.J. Stroud. There is also a possibility that 2021 Bronko Nagurski Award recipient and Unanimous All-American in Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. could be the first overall pick for any NFL team.
The 2023 NFL Draft class has many unique and talented prospects that will have a chance to develop themselves more in the remaining off-season and the 2022 college football season. One potential first-round prospect who is drawing high grades for next year's NFL Draft is Arkansas Razorbacks safety Jalen Catalon.
Catalon has continuously gotten better throughout his collegiate career. After playing one game in his true freshman season in 2019, Catalon became a starter in his sophomore season the following year. Catalon accounted for 99 total tackles, 51 solo tackles, four pass breakups, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery that season. He was named a first-team All-SEC selection for being one of the most dynamic and consistent defenders in the SEC.
He was added to the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist during the preseason last year. This award recognizes the best defensive player in college football by the Maxwell Football Club.
Catalon was on his way to another fantastic season until he suffered a shoulder injury that limited his 2021 season. He played six games this past season where he accounted for 46 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, four pass breakups, two interceptions and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Catalon chose to return his senior season instead of going early for the 2022 NFL Draft. As a result, he is projected to be either a preseason first or second-team All-SEC selection. He will also have a chance to be a preseason All-American selection with his experience and leadership. If he has another fantastic season for the Razorbacks' defense, Catalon's NFL Draft stock should be high.
While he is undersized at 5 feet 10 inches and 199 pounds, he is a defender that can fly to the ball carrier and deliver big hits. His ability to recognize the play and provide excellent, hard-hitting zone coverage and his quick speed make him a reliable potential defender for the NFL.
In early 2023 NFL Mock Drafts, Catalon has garnered consideration as a possible first-round pick for several teams.
Matthew Freedman of Fantasy Pros and Logan Ulrich of NLF Trade Rumors predict Catalon being drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 32nd overall pick, the last pick in the first round. Tankathon's 2023 NFL Mock Draft has Catalon being selected 28th overall to the Detroit Lions. The highest Catalon has gone in some of the most popular 2023 NFL Mock Drafts is from Christian Williams from Rush Four where Catalon gets drafted 14th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Catalon has the potential to continue the trend of the Razorbacks having players get drafted in the first round for the second consecutive year. On April 28, Razorbacks star wide receiver Treylon Burks was selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Having Catalon become a first-round pick would be the first time that the Razorbacks would have two players drafted in the first round in consecutive years since 2007 and 2008.