Now that the participants for the College Football Playoff and the entire bowl schedule have been announced, college football fans should be gearing up for a fantastic slate of games.

Not every top player who is eligible to play will play in the coming weeks, though. As has become common in recent years, several NFL hopefuls will opt out of their bowl games.

Football is a business, and that's even more apparent in the NIL era of college football. For top draft prospects with little to prove, it makes sense to sit out a bowl game to avoid the risk of injury and prepare for the draft. NFL careers can be short, and no one should fault a player for putting their health and financial future first.

It's not that these players are selfish or don't love the game. The rewards simply don't outweigh the potential risk. With all due respect to the event's organizers, a shot at winning the Gasparilla Bowl isn't worth potentially losing millions of dollars in a draft-day tumble.

With that in mind, we're here to examine some of the top 2023 draft prospects who won't and/or shouldn't participate in bowl games this year. We'll dive into where their draft stock currently stands and why suiting up for (in most cases) a meaningless exhibition wouldn't be logical.

Players are listed in alphabetical order.


Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

Alabama is scheduled to face Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on December 31. While one last game against a quality opponent could aid draft prospects like quarterback Bryce Young—who is vying to be the first signal-caller off the board—pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. has nothing left to prove.

Anderson is widely regarded as the top overall prospect in the 2023 draft. That's exactly where he lands in the B/R Scouting Department's latest rankings.

With 10 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, 24 solo stops and an interception already on his 2022 resume, Anderson isn't going to improve his draft stock with a strong showing against the Wildcats. That doesn't mean Anderson isn't pondering playing one last game with his Crimson Tide teammates, though.

"I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Anderson told reporters. “I’ve just been really focused on this season and continuing to be a good leader and making sure that I’m showing guys the right way of how to do things around here. But it’s a great time here. Playing in Bryant-Denny has been fun, so many memories. I just wanna keep those memories going."

From a business standpoint, suiting up for the Sugar Bowl isn't worth the risk for Anderson. He already has a shot to be the first non-quarterback off the board, if not the No. 1 overall pick next April.


Bryan Bresee, Edge, Clemson

Clemson's Bryan Bresee is the sixth-ranked prospect on the B/R big board and the second-ranked defensive lineman after Georgia's Jalen Carter.

While Carter is set to face TCU for a spot in the national title game, Bresee is set to face Tennessee in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Although that should be a fun matchup to watch, Bresee doesn't have much left to prove.

The 21-year-old returned from last year's ACL injury to appear in nine games this season, logging 2.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and two passes defended. After proving he's healthy enough to play, he should now focus on being healthy enough to pass medical checks at the scouting combine in February.

Bresee is unlikely to supplant Carter as the top D-line prospect in the draft, which puts him in a different position than teammate and pass-rusher Myles Murphy.

Murphy—who was ranked third overall and labeled the "most versatile" pass-rusher by the B/R Scouting Department—has an ever-so-slight chance of supplanting Anderson as the top edge-rusher in the draft. A dominant performance against the Volunteers could at least put Murphy in that conversation.

Meanwhile, Bresee should focus on his continued recovery from the torn ACL.