The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books.
Rutgers entered the weekend with plenty of prospects and saw one player get his named called over the course of the three-day event. Following the conclusion of the draft on Saturday, other Scarlet Knights began getting calls as free agents.
Christian Braswell, Jacksonville Jaguars (Rd. 6, No. 202)
Christian Braswell was the lone Knight to get selected during the NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars used their sixth-round pick on the cornerback with plenty of upside.
Braswell makes it two years in a row that Rutgers had a player selected in the draft. Both Isiah Pacheco and Bo Melton were drafted in 2022. This marks the first time that Rutgers had a player taken in back-to-back years since 2018-19.
Braswell spent the first two years of his career at Temple before transferring to Rutgers following the 2020 season. He spent one year on the field for Rutgers and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2022. Braswell totaled 36 tackles, nine pass breakups, three interceptions, and one touchdown.
In an evaluation by The Draft Network, Braswell’s lack of physicality and length was brought into question. These were highlighted as potential cons for Jacksonville but there were also pros listed:
“Christian Braswell will be a good fit for Greg Schiano’s zone-heavy defensive system in 2022. Coming from Temple, Braswell was asked to play both in the nickel and as an outside cornerback in 2020 and showcased desirable foot speed, short-area agility, and a second gear to recover if transitions allowed for initial separation. Furthermore, Braswell has shown the ability to sniff out the football in coverage with several quality challenges on the football in coverage—he’s made a number of acrobatic plays to contort or extend to the football. Braswell has the necessary scrap to play and succeed despite suboptimal size for the position and complements that fiery attitude with reps on the kickoff team as recently as this past season with Temple. He’s at his best in space, so playing in a zone-heavy secondary should set him up for a successful and productive final season in CFB.”
Sean Ryan, Baltimore Ravens (Signed as UDFA)
Sean Ryan finished his career at Rutgers in 2022 after transferring from West Virginia. Ryan began his career at Temple before landing with the Mountaineers.
In 2022, Ryan finished with 26 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan led the Scarlet Knights in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season.
The 6-foot-2 receiver will have a chance to compete for a Ravens’ team that prioritized wide receiver in this year’s draft after signing Lamar Jackson to an extension.
Aron Cruickshank, Chicago Bears (Signed as UDFA)
The most dynamic player for Rutgers over the last two years was picked up by the Chicago Bears following the draft.
Cruickshank spent three years in Piscataway after transferring from Wisconsin. He arrived as an electric return man but gave Rutgers plenty more on the offensive side of the ball.
As a receiver, Cruickshank totaled 99 catches for 868 yards and five touchdowns in three years. His 42 catches in 2022 was tops on the team.
In 2020, Cruickshank was named the Big Ten’s Return Specialist of the Year. He racked up 671 kick return yards with two touchdowns. He averaged 23.1 return yards on 29 attempts.
Christian Izien, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Signed as UDFA)
Christian Izien patrolled the back end for four years during his time at Rutgers.
The defensive back impressed during the NFL Combine despite being a bit undersized at 5-foot-9. Izien is extremely quick, running a 4.41 40-yard dash, and has enough length to stay with receivers. He can cover man-to-man, which brings versatility to Tampa Bay.
Izien totaled 297 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, and four interceptions during his career in Piscataway.
Buccaneers, let’s work.— Christian Izien Jr. (@chriscrafty_) April 30, 2023
Avery Young, San Francisco 49ers (Signed as UDFA)
Avery Young will get a chance to work with the best defense in the NFL.
Young was signed by the San Francisco 49ers and will bring more intensity to an already angry defense. Young is a ball-hawking corner with great feet and size for the position. He is a willing tackler and is not afraid of physicality. Seems like a fit for San Francisco.
Young played 56 games at Rutgers. He finished with 310 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, three interceptions, and 22 pass defended.
J.D. DiRenzo, Carolina Panthers (Signed as UDFA)
J.D. DiRenzo spent the 2022 season on the offensive line for the Scarlet Knights after a career at Sacred Heart.
DiRenzo started all 12 games for Rutgers on the left side of the offensive line (nine at guard, three at tackle). The 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman has the size to compete at the next level and will get a chance for a team that drafted its franchise quarterback with the top pick in the draft on Thursday night.