Illinois Football: Illini players on 2023 NFL Draft day 2 best available

One Illinois football player is off the board, and there are still a few options on the best available ranking for the 2023 NFL Draft.

Thursday night was big for the Illini. Devon Witherspoon was projected to go either No. 6 to the Detroit Lions or No. 7 to the Las Vegas Raiders. I thought he was going to land with one of these franchises.

In true NFL Draft fashion, there was a shake-up at the top. Instead of Witherspoon going No. 6 or No. 7, he was able to climb into the top five and was selected No. 5 by the Seattle Seahawks.

Witherspoon is heading west and will have an opportunity to resurrect one of the greatest secondaries in NFL history a decade ago. He could be the main figure in the Legion of Boom 2.0.

While Illini Nation still hasn’t come down from the high of having our first top-five pick since 1996, there are still multiple Illinois players still left on the board.

Look for two Illinois football players to be selected in rounds two or three of the 2023 NFL Draft

There are still a few surprises left on ESPN’s best available options. Quarterback Will Levis is sitting at No. 1. There were times he was mentioned as a top 10 pick over the last couple of weeks.  I am surprised tight end Michael Mayer is left as well. He will be a top-five tight end in the NFL.

Out of the remaining Illinois players still left on the board, you won’t find anyone in the top 25 of the best available. You have to go to page two where you will find Sydney Brown at No. 38. Quickly following Brown is Quan Martin at No. 41.

There were plenty of mock drafts coming into the 2023 NFL Draft that had Martin ahead of Brown. Depending on the need, it is a coin flip for who goes ahead of who. Brown is more a hard-hitting standard safety while Martin is a player who can play cornerback, nickel, or safety.

I doubt that either of these two go in the early second round, but don’t be surprised to see one off the board before round three begins. If I had to guess, both players won’t make it past day Friday. With the glowing reviews of the Illinois program and what we produced in the secondary, our defensive backs are a hot commodity.