While most people are paying attention to first-round prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, it is always important to focus on some of the lesser-known players who will be selected in the later rounds as well.
These players can be incredibly important to a team’s success regardless of if they are depth pieces or even stars. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs have drafted incredible players in recent seasons past the first round such as Creed Humphrey, L’Jarius Sneed and Trey Smith, who have all played massive roles in their recent Super Bowl run.
Joe Schoen has the potential to make some massive upgrades through the draft this season, especially in the later rounds. These nine players are guys both fans, and the Giants should be monitoring ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft:
9. Cincinnati LB LB Ivan Pace Jr.
For better or for worse, there may not be a more interesting linebacker prospect in this year’s draft class than Ivan Pace Jr. While Pace was easily one of the best players at the position in all of college football last season, his size brings some big red flags.
Pace is a 5-10, 231-pound linebacker who showcased a plethora of skills during his time at Cincinnati. In 13 games last season, Pace racked up 126 combined tackles, 55 pressures and 12 sacks. Pace is an absolute monster in the run game, using his elite speed and awareness to push through open holes to make tackles. Alongside this, Pace is also incredibly solid in coverage, allowing 12 receptions on 14 targets for just 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Pace plays with a heart that we haven’t really seen out of other linebackers in this year’s draft class, so there’s no doubt that he wants to be a fantastic player and he very well could be. Honestly, if it wasn’t for his size we could very well be talking about Pace as if he was a first-round prospect.
It will be interesting to see how his lack of length will translate to the NFL, as that will determine how great he is. He has every other tool needed: the speed, strength, IQ, and awareness, he just needs to keep it up and hope his size doesn’t hinder his NFL performance too much.