Football: Four Northwestern players selected in 2023 NFL Draft, most picked since 1985


Daily file photo of Skoronski by Seeger Gray, daily file photo of Adebawore by Joshua Hoffman, daily file photo of Mitchell by Carly Schulman and daily file photo of Hull by Alyce Brown.

Left: Peter Skoronski blocks a defender. Middle left: Adetomiwa Adebawore gets in the four-point stance. Middle right: Cameron Mitchell jogs onto the field. Right: Evan Hull runs the ball. The four were selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Lawrence Price, Sports Editor

After no Northwestern players were drafted to the NFL last year, the Wildcats made a major, and historical, bounce back this year. For the first time since 1985, four Wildcats were drafted. Here they are:

Offensive lineman Peter Skoronski — Tennessee Titans (Rd: 1 Pk: 11)

The All-American is headed to Nashville.

Offensive lineman Peter Skoronski was selected 11th overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday — the highest-drafted Wildcat since 1983 with offensive tackle Chris Hinton at No. 4 to the Denver Broncos. He’s NU’s most recent first-round draft pick since cornerback Greg Newsome II went 26th to the Cleveland Browns in 2021.

Although Skoronski was the second offensive lineman taken off the board, five spots after the Arizona Cardinals selected Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6, the Park Ridge, Illinois, native was regarded as this year’s top offensive lineman by many outlets.

The junior declared for the draft Dec. 16 to conclude a decorated and polished collegiate career in Evanston. Alongside being one of the five 2022 captains, Skoronski earned a unanimous first-team All-American honor — the first in NU history.

Playing 33 games overall, the four-star prospect started in every contest during his first year, stepping up in the absence of future first-round pick offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and securing a second-team All-Big Ten selection — the first Cats’ freshman to do so since linebacker Paddy Fisher in 2017.

Skoronski continued to dominate and refine his game as his career continued, snagging first-team All-Big Ten honors in both his sophomore and junior years, and also winning the Rimington-Pace Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award in 2022. A constant brick wall, Skoronski allowed only six pressures on 480 pass-blocking snaps in his junior campaign.

Although in a rebuild mode, the Titans will task Skoronski with protecting whichever quarterback is under center in Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis. Following Tennessee’s decision to cut three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Taylor Lewan in February, it’s safe to say Skoronski will play a pivotal role in the Nashville trenches.

Defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore — Indianapolis Colts (Rd: 4 Pk: 110)

After playing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the Big Ten Championship in 2020, Adebawore will return there soon, but this time flexing some new threads for the Indianapolis Colts.

Over the course of his four-year tenure in Evanston, Adebawore’s nod as one of the five captains complements his successful career as a college athlete. He totaled 12.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles over his 33 starts for NU.

Having declared for the draft two days before Skoronski, Adebawore’s stock began to rise at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in February, in which he made quick, and scary, work of an opposing offensive tackle during a drill.

However, the Senior Bowl wasn’t half the story — his time to shine came at the NFL Combine, when he proved once again that his athleticism was off the charts. At over 280 pounds, Adebawore ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, and sported a 37.5-inch vertical and 10.5-foot broad jump, the highest in all three categories in combine history.

According to multiple outlets, Adebawore’s name continued to climb the NFL Draft big board prior to April, making him a possible draft in the second, third and quietly a brink-first round pick.

Although the Kansas City, Missouri native’s selection didn’t come until the fourth round, Adebawore will join the likes of All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in Indianapolis. The move will give the Colts even more flexibility and athleticism in its defensive trenches.

Defensive back Cameron Mitchell — Cleveland Browns (Rd: 5 Pk: 142)

Former first round pick defensive back Greg Newsome II handed the No. 2 torch down to Mitchell after pursuing his dream in the big leagues. Now, the two will be lurking in the same secondary together.

To express his excitement after the selection, Newsome II tweeted, “NOOOO WAYYY LFGGGGGGG GO BROWNS.”

Mitchell played 35 games for NU, stepping into his own this past season. After securing Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week against Nebraska in week one, No. 2 finished with a career and team-best of nine pass breakups this past season. He was also an All-Big Ten honorable mention for the past two seasons.

The Bolingbrook, Illinois native played the majority of his time on the outside last season, or followed around whichever top receiver was assigned to him. With a deep sky room alongside Newsome II, time will tell how the Browns will utilize Mitchell.

Running back Evan Hull — Indianapolis Colts (Rd: 5 Pk: 176)

Adebawore isn’t the only Wildcat turning in his Evanston purple and white stripes for the Indianapolis blue and white — Hull will be joining him.

Following a miraculous 2021 season of rushing for more than 1000 yards and more than 250 receiving yards, the back upped the price in 2022. Although finishing with around 900 yards on the ground, Hull more than doubled his receiving yards from the year prior, picking up 546 yards. By season’s end, the rusher-turned-dynamite led all FBS running backs with 54 receptions, securing an All-Big Ten honorable mention.

Now heading to Indianapolis, the rusher will play behind first-team All-Pro running back Johnathan Taylor, who coincidentally went to Wisconsin, in the Colts’ depth chart. However, with a 4.47 60-yard speed, his continual mix of athleticism and elusiveness for the Cats this past season and pass-catching ability, Hull may see the lineup sooner rather than later.

Taylor went down with a high ankle sprain injury mid-December this past season, forcing the Colts to place him on the injury reserve list and miss the remainder of the season. With Taylor’s injury history and weary durability, Hull might propel himself into the lineup even sooner. But for now, only time will tell what to expect for the former Cat.

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