Jedd Fisch’s club finished 5-7 in 2022, a four-win improvement from the 2021 club. Who helped catalyze the change? We’ll dissect the Arizona Wildcats‘ top 2023 NFL Draft prospects and their scouting reports to project ceilings at the next level.
Arizona 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Christian Young, S
Strengths: Two-year starting safety who is best defending the run. Remains disciplined with assignments, chases the action hard, and has a closing burst to the play. Instinctive, uses his hands to protect himself, and flows laterally to the action. Efficient, takes proper angles, and gets to the flanks to help cornerbacks in coverage.
Weaknesses: Undisciplined with his footwork and all over the place moving in reverse. Marginal production in coverage and never intercepted a pass in the five years he played for Arizona.
Overall: Young possesses solid size and instincts and plays with a tough-guy mentality, but he has limitations. He’s a traditional strong safety type who will have to play in a zone system that allows him to go downhill rather than laterally.
Hunter Echols, EDGE
Strengths: Athletic linebacker who makes plays in all directions of the field. Explosive, fast moving to every area of the field, and displays good change-of-direction ability. Displays speed in pursuit, breaks down well, and plays with reckless abandon. Flows laterally to the action, shows ability in space, and plays with balance and body control. Effectively protects himself with his hands. Gives effort on the blitz.
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Weaknesses: Lacks size, isn’t forceful upfield, and is easily taken from plays by blocks. Never truly met expectations.
Overall: Echols was reasonably productive for both Arizona and USC, where he began his college career, but he was more of a flash defender than a consistent playmaker. He comes with an upside, but he must elevate every aspect of his game to make it out of camp this summer.
Jalen Harris, EDGE
Strengths: Slightly undersized college pass rusher who can be used out of a three-point stance or standing over tackle. Has nice length and solid movement skills and plays to his 40-time. Easily changes direction, displays a variety of moves to get off blocks, and plays with balance and body control.
Fires off the snap with a quick first step out of a three-point stance, plays with outstanding pad level, and gets leverage on opponents. Breaks down well, flows laterally to the action, and makes plays in pursuit. Nicely redirects to ball handlers and gives effort when making the tackle.
Weaknesses: Takes wide angles as a pass rusher. Lacks strength and bulk and gets overwhelmed at the point by blocks. Was never a great pass rusher for Arizona.
Overall: Harris was a consistent defender on the college level, but he comes with average size and speed. He offers growth potential and could ultimately develop into a defensive end in a four-man front.
Josh Donovan, G
Strengths: Wide-bodied lineman who blocks with a nasty attitude. Quick off the snap, keeps his head on a swivel, and goes hard after opponents. Stays square, blocks with lean, and anchors at the point. Displays awareness and works well with linemates.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t sink his butt at the line of scrimmage and gets tall as the play proceeds. Overextends into blocks. Must be more consistent with his hand placement. Minimally effective blocking in motion.
Overall: Donovan is a size prospect who is best suited for a power gap scheme, but he must improve his fundamentals to have any shot of making an NFL roster.
Paiton Fears, OL
Strengths: Four-year starter who played 34 games with the first team. Hard-working college tackle who gets the most from his ability. Quickly sets up off the snap, stays square and works his hands throughout the action. Adjusts to defenders, displays terrific hand punch and knocks opponents from their angles of attack. Makes good use of angles, keeps his head on a swivel and picks up stunts or twists thrown by the opposition.
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Weaknesses: Bends at the waist and overextends in pass protection. Lack smooth and fluid footwork off the edge. Heavy-footed and lacks range.
Overall: Fears was a durable lineman for Arizona, but he comes with minimal upside. His experience at tackle and versatility to kick inside to guard gives him an outside shot of making a practice squad.