I’ve been suggesting over the last month that Tennessee Vols edge rusher Byron Young is being overlooked in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Most of the “top edge rusher” draft lists that I’ve seen have failed to include Young, despite his solid final season at Tennessee.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, however, destroyed that narrative with his latest mock draft.

Kiper’s mock draft that he revealed on Wednesday has the Seattle Seahawks selecting Young in the first round with the No. 20 overall pick.

(Former Vols edge rusher Darrell Taylor plays for the Seahawks, but he left Tennessee for the NFL before Young’s arrival in Knoxville.)

From ESPN:

We’re back with another Seattle pick here after I projected general manager John Schneider to take a quarterback at No. 5. Let’s focus on the defense. The Seahawks struggled against the run this season, and we know coach Pete Carroll loves toolsy edge defenders. L.J. Collier didn’t work out in Round 1 in 2019, but Darrell Taylor, a Round 2 pick in 2020, is coming off a breakout 9.5-sack season. Bruce Irvin made his way back to the team in 2022 too.

This is a great reminder that mock drafts and rankings don’t always reflect how NFL teams actually feel.

Sure, usually we have a good idea of who will go where. But there are always a few players who are drafted higher than expected and a few players who fall further than expected.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Young is one of the players who is drafted higher than expected. He isn’t a perfect edge rusher prospect — he’s a smaller edge rusher by NFL standards — but he has plenty of athleticism and he brings energy on defense. He’s the type of player that NFL teams will regret passing on if he falls.

Featured image via Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

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