With the Cincinnati spring game behind us, all eyes shift toward the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. Six Bearcats were invited to the annual combine in early March: Josh Whyle, Tre Tucker, Tyler Scott, Arquon Bush, Leonard Taylor and Ivan Pace Jr.
On April 27, these Bearcats, along with hundreds of other NCAA football players, have the chance to start their careers in the NFL.
Here are The News Record's predictions for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Tyler Scott: 110th pick, Atlanta Falcons
The 5-foot-11 receiver saw his role dramatically increase in 2022 after the departure of Alec Pierce. Hauling in 54 receptions and nearly surpassing 899 yards, the Ohio native makes too much sense in Atlanta.
With the departure of Calvin Ridley, the Falcons need another weapon to pair alongside star tight end Kyle Pitts. Scott and Ridder already have playing experience, so the Falcons can hit the ground running in a wide-open NFC South.
Caleb's analysis: All around, I feel that Scott is the premier sleeper wide receiver in the draft. Scott's first step is lighting fast, which allows him to get past defenders easily. Also, he has great hands and does not drop many passes. He has all the intangibles to be a great wide receiver in the NFL. Whatever team takes the gamble on him will win.
Linebacker Ivan Pace Jr.: 133rd pick, Chicago Bears
After landing this pick from the Eagles for Robert Quinn, the Bears snag Pace to help their pass rush. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Pace transferred to UC for his senior year. The linebacker, who played in all 13 games, recorded nine sacks and two forced fumbles, both career highs.
After trading away the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina for a massive draft haul, the Bears are littered with future picks. Although the group is young, with Aaron Rodgers likely out of the division, the NFC North is anyone's to win. Pace brings a stable presence that could dramatically help the Bears' weak pass rush that finished last in sacks per game in 2022.
Caleb's analysis: Pace is undersized for the linebacker position in the NFL. But what he lacks in size, he makes up with energy. He is physical, fast, can tackle well and is great at defending the pass while being challenged to play pass coverage. His energy will electrify any defense he joins immensely.
Tight end Josh Whyle: 149th pick, Green Bay Packers
With Jordan Love likely taking over the role as the primary quarterback, the Packers need to get him some help. Although a tight end is possible at pick 15, with Notre Dame's Michael Mayer or Utah's Dalton Kincaid, I think Green Bay waits to take Whyle in round five.
At six feet, six inches, Whyle is a reliable target over the middle and a consistent red zone threat. Surpassing 300 yards each of the last three seasons, Whyle would be a huge help for the young Jordan Love.
Defensive back Arquon Bush: 222nd pick, San Francisco 49ers
A five-year player at UC, Bush could be a late-round flyer for any team looking for cornerback depth. Bush had two interceptions in the year and six passes deflected. A talented veteran, the 49ers could use the extra depth as they look to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
Wide receiver Tre Tucker: 238th pick, Kansas City Chiefs
Another veteran, Tucker, saw his best season in 2022 by reaching the endzone three times and amounting to 52 catches for 672 yards. On a team already that features two Bearcats, Travis Kelce and Bryan Cook, Tucker brings another element to an elite offense. With JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the fold, Tucker could become a young replacement.
Caleb's analysis: I am most impressed with Tucker's speed. An NFL team in the later rounds looking for someone who is a fast route runner and great at catching the ball will have quite the get with Tre Tucker. A lot of teams need a quick, second-elite receiver, and I believe that Tre Tucker fits that mold for many teams.