Image credit: BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
The 2023 NFL Draft begins Thursday. As usual, many of the top prospects in this year’s draft have ties to baseball, either as a player themselves or as the relative of a professional player.
Here is a look at this year’s top NFL Draft prospects that have baseball ties.
David Durden, WR, West Florida
Durden starred as an outfielder at Emanuel County Institute (Twin City, Ga.) High and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 20th round in 2017. He signed for $125,000 and played one season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he hit .220/.311/.231 with a double and nine RBIs in 30 games. Durden struggled to make contact with 33 strikeouts against just six walks in 106 plate appearances and left professional baseball after one season to play college football. He spent two years at Mercer before transferring to West Florida and is one of the top Division II prospects in this year’s draft class. He projects to be selected in the late rounds and has a chance to become the latest athlete to be drafted in both football and baseball.
Jaren Hall, QB, BYU
A dual-sport star at Maple Mountain (Spanish Fork, Utah) High, Hall arrived at BYU as a quarterback but decided to join the baseball team once he got to campus. He played two seasons as an outfielder for the Cougars in 2019-20 and hit .245 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 30 games. Hall dropped baseball in 2021 to compete for the starting quarterback job and won it. He went on to finish his career with 6,174 passing yards and 52 touchdowns for the Cougars. His younger brother, Dawsen, is a backup outfielder at BYU.
Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
The two-time national championship-winning quarterback was a star shortstop and leadoff hitter at Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.) High. He led the Bears to the state championship game as a senior and won the state Class 3A Player of the Year Award. Bennett still holds the school record for stolen bases and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Braves home opener this year.
Max Duggan, QB, Texas Christian
Duggan played varsity baseball at Lewis Central (Council Bluffs, Iowa) High as an outfielder. He went on to become one of the most decorated quarterbacks in TCU history and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting last season while leading the Horned Frogs to the national championship game. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Rangers’ game against the Phillies on April 1.
Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State
Luepke was a three-time all-conference center fielder at Spencer (Wis.) High. He led NDSU to the FCS national championship last year and was named Most Outstanding Player of the national title game. He is one of the top fullbacks in this year’s draft.
Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska
Palmer played varsity baseball at Kentwood (La.) High and hit .380 as a sophomore. He helped lead the Kangaroos to the Class 1A state semifinals as a junior in only the program’s third year of existence.
Davis Allen, TE, Clemson
Allen starred as a 6-foot-6 lefthanded pitcher and first baseman at Calhoun (Ga.) High before turning his attention to football full-time. He is one of the top tight ends in the draft and projects to be taken in the third or fourth round.
Ryan Hayes, LT, Michigan
Hayes was a star pitcher at Traverse City (Mich.) West High and still holds the school record for wins (24), ERA (1.07) and strikeouts (241). He was an all-conference selection in baseball as well as football and basketball.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Levis lettered in baseball as well as football at Xavier (Middletown, Pa.) High School. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the draft and projects to be selected in the first round.
Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte
Dubose lettered in baseball at Park Crossing (Montgomery, Ala.) High and hit .280 with 17 stolen bases as a junior. He also played travel ball and participated in Baseball Factory showcases.
Dee Winters, LB, Texas Christian
Winters was a standout center fielder who played all four years on varsity at Burton (Texas) High. He hit .401 with 97 runs scored, 70 RBIs and 60 stolen bases in his prep career.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Smith-Njigba is the younger brother of Pirates outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba. He is one of the top receivers in the draft and projects to be selected in the first round.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer is a cousin of Reds catcher Luke Maile. His father, Andy Mayer, played college baseball at Ohio. He is the top tight end in the draft and projects to be selected in the first round.
Travis Dye, RB, Southern California
Dye is the son of former minor league second baseman/outfielder Mark Dye. Mark played from 1981-85 in the Tigers, Athletics and Astros organizations and topped out in Class A.
Parker Washington, WR, Penn State
Washington is a cousin of Royals minor league shortstop Tyler Tolbert. Another cousin, Stephen Dobbs, played catcher at Alabama-Birmingham and was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list as a senior.