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The 2022 NFL draft should be a reminder that attempting to predict the outcome of the annual event a year ahead of time is a fool’s errand.

At this time last year, Georgia’s Travon Walker was a lightly used backup not in the discussion for the first round, much less the No. 1 overall pick. Breakout seasons from other Day 1 picks in Jameson Williams, Quay Walker and Jermaine Johnson II, among others, further highlighted the folly of trying to forecast one draft right as another ends.

But this year’s group also featured talents who earned top draft billing after putting themselves on the radar a season or more ago, including Derek Stingley Jr., Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. So while determining the exact outlook of a draft class this early might prove impossible, one can get a sense of the overall shape.

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With that in mind, here’s our early NFL draft rankings for 2023:

1. Will Anderson, OLB/DE, Alabama

Walker, Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson were widely seen as being a rung below the likes of Myles Garrett and other elite pass rushers from previous years. Anderson, however, appears to be well on his way to reaching that class and would likely have been the No. 1 pick this year had he been eligible. The 6-4, 243-pound edge rusher built a buzz almost as soon as he first took the field for the Crimson Tide, and he elevated his game in 2021 by recording 17½ sacks and 34½ tackles for loss, both tops in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Regardless of whether he is drafted ahead of the highest-ranked quarterbacks next year, Anderson is the most dominant player in college football and has the makings of a future All-Pro.

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