2023 NFL Draft Watch: 7 first-time starters shining; key matchups this weekend

One of the first Scouting Lessons I learned is that body of work matters — some of the biggest busts in NFL history were one-year starters in college.

But there have been plenty of exceptions. Due to the defensive depth at Georgia, Travon Walker, for example, didn’t start a game for the Bulldogs until last season, yet he was still the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, and the early returns have been positive in Jacksonville.

The seven players below are hoping to land on the right side of that history, too. For one reason or another, none of the seven became Collegiate starters until this season, but they are making the most of their opportunities, and NFL teams have taken notice.

(Note: An Asterisk indicates a draft-eligible underclassman. Only draft-eligible prospects were considered for this list.)

Jaylen Moody, LB, Alabama (6-foot-0, 222 pounds)

Last season, running back Brian Robinson parlayed a fifth season in Tuscaloosa and a chance to start into becoming a mid-round draft choice. This year, Jaylen Moody is looking to follow the same game plan. After four seasons as a backup and special-teamer for the Tide, he earned a spot in the starting lineup and is making the most of the added playing time.

Despite leaving some production on the field against

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