ESPN picks ASU’s, Arizona’s best 2023 NFL Draft prospects

Aug 13, 2022, 10:06 AM

Colorado running back Alex Fontenot runs away from Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson (8) in...

Colorado running back Alex Fontenot runs away from Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson (8) in the second half during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. Colorado defeated Arizona State 34-31. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona and Arizona State are projected on different trajectories heading into the 2022 season — though Arizona only can go up — but both teams have potential NFL prospects.

ESPN’s Matt Miller ranked the top NFL prospect from each college football team and said Wildcats wide receiver Jacob Cowing and Sun Devils linebacker Merlin Robertson were the two most likely to be playing on Sundays.

Cowing posted career marks in his last season at UTEP before transferring to Arizona, recording 69 catches for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran four times for 75 yards and a score.

Cowing was named First Team All-Conference USA in 2021 after securing a second-team selection the year prior.

A transfer from UTEP, Cowing’s big-play ability is much needed in Tucson. The 5-11, 170-pounder is a deep threat and dynamic slot receiver. He’s a yards-after-catch phenom who has the blend of speed and elusiveness the league loves. He has a Day 3 grade right now.

The fourth-year junior receiver was also named to the 2022 Maxwell Award and Biletnikoff Award preseason watch lists.

He will be a part of the Arizona offense that also features Washington State transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura.

Robertson is now in his fifth season at ASU. While playing 12 games last season, Robertson recorded 64 tackles as well as a team-leading three interceptions.

A leader and one of the most productive linebackers returning to college football, Robertson handles a versatile, hybrid role in the Sun Devils’ defense. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, he’s built for the NFL but has coverage chops of a smaller player. He enters the year as a potential Round 4 or 5 prospect.

Robertson was also named to the preseason Butkus Award watch list, honoring the best linebacker in the country.

The Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 will look to lead a new-look defense alongside linebacker Kyle Soelle.

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ESPN picks ASU’s, Arizona’s best 2023 NFL Draft prospects