Illinois Football: Devon Witherspoon a top 5 prospect in 2023 NFL Draft

Illinois football has a top-five-rated player in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.

Just uttering those words didn’t seem fathomable just a couple of years ago. The Illini were just looking to get one player drafted, let alone have someone go in the top five.

But now it is looking like Illinois could have a player go, at least, in the first 10 picks of the 2023 draft. On Monday,’s Daniel Jeremiah released his top 50 players for the 2023 NFL Draft. Only one Illinois player made the list, and that was cornerback, Devon Witherspoon.

The hot names in the draft that everyone is talking about are in the first few spots, but you don’t have to go down much further to find Witherspoon. Jeremiah has him ranked as the No. 5 player in the upcoming draft. That is an incredible achievement in itself.

Devon Witherspoon is going to be in elite Illinois football company in the 2023 NFL Draft

It is rare to have the Illinois football program top-of-mind when it comes to the NFL Draft. Usually, we have players go as high as the third round, and that is a good year.

The last time the Illini had a first-round draft pick was back in 2012. We had two that year with Whitney Mercilus and AJ Jenkins going No. 26 and No. 30, respectively. We actually had four selections in the top 48 picks in that draft.

You can take Witherspoon’s draft potential a step further than him just being selected in the first round. He has a legit shot to go in the top 10. Illinois has had 10 top 10 picks in the history of the NFL Draft. The last player to go in the top 10 was Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice who went No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the 1996 NFL Draft.

Take a second and think about this for a second. The NFL Draft started in 1936. In 87 years, there have been 10 Illinois football players selected in the top 10 of the NFL Draft. On April 27, 2023, Witherspoon has a good chance to make it 11 players. This kid is truly special.