April has become increasingly busy for college football coaches.
Finishing spring practice, hosting recruits, hitting the road to see prospects or just monitoring the spring transfer portal window, which closed at midnight Monday.
But college coaches still had time to track the NFL draft, not only what happened with their own players but with the ones they faced over the past few seasons.
College coaches have a distinct perspective on draft prospects. They have followed many since high school, and then recruited or game-planned for them over the past few years. After launching the draft reaction piece in 2021 and following up in 2022, I contacted more than 30 college coaches in recent days to gather their thoughts on the draft. I spoke mostly to head coaches and coordinators in the Power 5, but also some Group of 5 coaches, to break down who went where and why.
They came away with thoughts -- on the first-round surprises, the quarterbacks, best fits for players/teams, the overall outputs for college programs and, of course, sleepers.
Most coaches spoke anonymously.
Here's an evaluation of the 2023 NFL draft through the eyes of college coaches (Note: Coaches are listed according to their roles during the 2022 season).
QB debates: Richardson, Levis, Hooker and others
Despite some pre-draft chatter, the top quarterbacks off the board went as expected: Alabama's Bryce Young at No. 1 overall to Carolina, followed by Ohio State's C.J. Stroud at No. 2 to Houston. Then, the drama began, as Florida's Anthony Richardson went No. 4 to Indianapolis, despite starting only 13 games for the Gators and lacking the statistics of a typical top-five pick.
"He's a great talent, and if they can get him to improve the accuracy and the decision-making, then he'll turn out to be incredible," said a defensive coordinator who faced Richardson last season.