JMU Football’s Top 2023 NFL Draft Prospects

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, and while no JMU players are expected to hear their names called in Round 1, there’s a chance a player or two get selected in Day 2 or Day 3 of this year’s event.

Ben DiNucci, who was selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, is the most recent JMU player to be selected in the draft. Could another JMU quarterback follow in DiNucci’s footsteps?

Todd Centeio, QB

Centeio, who starred for the Dukes in his one season in Harrisonburg, looks like JMU’s best chance for a player to be drafted in 2023. Centeio threw for 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season, showcasing a strong arm and an ability to move outside the pocket. He’s an athletic quarterback who can make good decisions, and he’s an interesting developmental prospect.

The quarterback also received some postseason attention, competing in events (like the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl) with other prospects. Scouts have an idea of who he is, which means if he isn’t drafted, he’s a top candidate for an undrafted free agent (UDFA) deal. He’s a bit undersized from a height perspective, but that’s less of a concern in the modern NFL.

Draft projection: Late-round pick or UDFA

Jamare Edwards, DL

Edwards came to JMU in 2022 from Marshall, and he was an important piece on a consistent defensive line. He finished the year with 44 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He performed well against App State and Louisville, indicating he can be disruptive against good competition.

At 6-feet-3-inches tall and 280 lbs, Edwards has NFL size. He hasn’t received a ton of pre-draft buzz, but Edwards was a strong college player.

Draft projection: Late-round pick/UDFA

Percy Agyei-Obese, RB

Agyei-Obese’s age (he played six college seasons) and injury history could turn some teams off, but he’s a ferocious runner with better-than-average speed. He rushed for 908 yards last season, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and reaching the end zone eight times.

The running back was consistent in 2022, and he showed up in games against top-tier teams. Even with the Louisville defense expecting runs with Centeio banged up, Agyei-Obese ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. He embarrassed Arkansas State, running over defenders and racking up a season-high 158 rushing yards in the victory.

He never tallied more than 50 receiving yards in a single season at JMU, but as a pure running back, Agyei-Obese could be a great find for a team in need of depth at the position.

Draft projection: UDFA/mini-camp tryout

Kris Thornton, WR

There’s no arguing Thornton’s athleticism nor production. He caught 59 passes for 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, proving to be Centeio’s most reliable target.

Thornton was a nightmare for opposing defenses, using quickness, route running, and reliable hands to overwhelm opponents. He often created space for tight ends and other receivers, as after the first few weeks of the season (Thornton caught five touchdowns in the first two games) defenses focused on slowing him down. He was one of the SBC’s most dangerous offensive weapons in 2022.

The obvious drawback for Thornton is size. He’s just 5’8″ and 180 lbs, per JMU’s roster. As an undersized receiver, Thornton faces an uphill battle to land on an NFL roster. He is, however, one of JMU’s most productive receivers in recent memory and has similar attributes to former JMU wide receiver Rashard Davis, who bounced around NFL rosters and has done quite well for himself in other professional football leagues.

Draft projection: Possible UDFA/mini-camp tryout

Devin Ravenel, WR

I don’t expect Ravenel to get drafted, but he’s an intriguing prospect to watch at the professional level. Could he land on an NFL team/practice squad? Might he take an XFL/USFL route? His brother found success playing overseas.

Ravenel only caught 24 passes in 2022, but seven of them went for touchdowns, and he played his best football at the end of the season. He ended his JMU career with 10 catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns over the final two weeks of the season, wins over Georgia State and Coastal Carolina.

He also performed well at JMU’s Pro Day, running well (4.45 in the 40) and showing good explosiveness. He isn’t huge, but he’s a quality athlete who I could see playing professionally at different stops for the next 5-10 years.

Draft projection: Undrafted, possible mini camp tryout

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