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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Analysis: Aggie draft predictions following the 2023 Pro Day

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Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

App State’s Dashaun Davis (17) avoids junior DB Antonio Johnson (27) at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022.

The road to Kansas City for the 2023 NFL draft is one more step to the finish line.
Three former Texas A&M football player’s got the chance to show off their skills in front of multiple scouts and coaches in the NFL at the 2023 A&M Pro Day, on Tuesday, March 28. Running back Devon Achane and defensive backs Antonio Johnson and Jaylon Jones all got the chance to compete.
With the Pro Day behind us, I predicted where each Aggie will fall in the draft while providing a small profile about them with videos from the event:
Devon Achane — Running Back
Draft Prediction: Mid 2nd Round
Clocking a 4.32 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, there is no question 2022 first team All-SEC running back Achane has the speed to compete in the NFL. During A&M’s 2023 Pro Day, Achane showed off that speed and quickness that he would bring to an NFL roster.
A question surrounding the back is whether or not he can be an every down type of guy in the NFL. His former head coach at A&M, Jimbo Fisher, seems to think Achane is more than capable of being an every down player.
“Devon [Achane] is going to be a three-down guy and people don’t realize that,” Fisher said. “The way the NFL is now with the situations and the diversity, I think he’ll excel in that game there.”
Achane’s speed is the biggest aspect that stands out in his game, however he has other intangibles that could help him shine as an NFL back. One aspect that Fisher said is underestimated about his game is his patience and how he can run between the tackles.
“Everybody sees him as a track guy but if you ever watch him, he runs with great patience,” Fisher said. “A lot of track guys sometimes always want to show their speed. Devon doesn’t show it until he has to. He has great natural patience to do it.”
The way Achane can be used in the special teams game will be another factor NFL teams will look into when making their decisions. There is no better example of this than his kick return touchdown Oct. 9, 2021 against No. 1 Alabama.
Whether or not Achane will be used in a special teams role in the NFL is still unknown.
What is known after Pro Day is that Achane can factor into a team’s passing game. During the event, Achane ran routes in front of scouts and coaches from the NFL, showing off his hands and route skills.
Although there may be questions about his size and durability in the NFL, Achane’s ability to factor in the passing game may help him get more touches while avoiding being hit by NFL size defensive lineman.
“He was a 30 catch guy with 1000 yards,” Fisher said. “That’s a lot of touches but you can create that with him and you’ll be able to get him touches where you don’t get him beat up inside.”
Christian McCaffery, running back for the San Francisco 49ers, is somebody Achane said he sees similar aspects of his game to.
“I feel like his game is very unique,” Achane said. “He’s a very great route runner from the backfield and I feel like I can do that as well.”
Antonio Johnson — Defensive Back
Draft Prediction: Early 2nd Round
During his time at A&M, Johnson was a physical player that could play all over the field. The first two words Fisher used when describing Johnson at the Pro Day were “competitor” and “tough.”
Much like his former teammate Achane, Johnson also has the ability to play multiple positions on his side of the ball. Despite playing nickel through the majority of his career in the maroon and white, Fisher said his versatility will be a factor in getting Johnson on the field.
“I think the versatility of playing a second level player and then being able to play nickel, free, strong and he can play dime on the other side which is like a nickel on the other side, so his position versatility and the other thing is he’ll be also a really good special teams player,” Fisher said “The NFL, they only get 53 guys, so the more they can get two or three or four players almost that can do those things in one guy that makes your value go through the roof and Antonio [Johnson] will do that in my opinion.”
Johnson is a lanky prospect, measuring in at 6 feet 2 inches with 32 ⅛ inch arm length. He showed off his broad jump during the Pro Day, jumping just over three yards.
Though not at the level of Achane, Johnson still has the speed needed to play in the NFL. He clocked a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, but decided not to run during the Pro Day.
Despite this, Johnson was still able to show off his quickness and speed during different drills throughout the day.
Something that Johnson said will help him face NFL competition is his experience playing in the SEC.
“Playing in the SEC, like any given week you may be going against a first round pick, any position, so I feel like that in itself prepared me for the next level because you played the best of the best, and that’s what you play in the NFL so I feel like it prepared me well,” Johnson said.
Jaylon Jones — Defensive Back
Draft Prediction: Late 3rd Round
After the 2022-23 college football season ended, there was a big question whether or not Jones would return for another season. Jones shortly decided that he would not return to A&M and instead would try his luck in the draft.
Whether or not he would have benefited from another year in college is yet to be decided.
At the NFL combine, Jones clocked a 4.57 40-yard dash. During the Pro Day, Jones was able to show off his speed, quickness and athleticism in drills and the 40-yard dash, once more.
Not many receivers caught balls when facing Jones last season. His performance from last season is one of the reasons he is being looked at heavily to be drafted. Despite his play, Fisher said his ability to stay healthy and his growth personally was also important for him.
“I think he grew and matured, he got banged up a little bit but he stayed healthy,” Fisher said. “He’s a really good player and a great kid.”
Not only will NFL teams be getting a good person in their organization, but they will be receiving someone who was a three year starter in the SEC. Like for Johnson, this will play as an advantage for Jones.
Jones credited his coaching staff at A&M and his time during the program as reasons for him being prepared for play in the NFL.
“You have to be a real dude to be in this program,” Jones said. “I definitely appreciate the coaches and my brothers for allowing this to happen.”

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