Chalk this one up on the way-too-early hype board: One ESPN writer has made a stunning projection for BYU quarterback Jaren Hall.

Matt Miller predicted that the Cougars’ junior quarterback will be a first-round draft pick in his way-too-early 2023 NFL mock draft released Tuesday.

It’s not the first time this offseason an ESPN expert has suggested a Utah underclassman quarterback could be first-round material this offseason.

Not long after the 2022 draft in April, Mel Kiper Jr. mentioned the Utes’ Cam Rising as a potential first-rounder in his early evaluations.

Kiper, too, had Hall on his radar for pro caliber quarterbacks to watch in the upcoming season.

Miller’s prediction, though, takes the Hall hype to an unprecedented level.

How BYU quarterback Jaren Hall is stacking up in NFL projections
Jaren Hall is hitting his stride, making his mark in BYU football history on and off the field

Where is Jaren Hall projected in Matt Miller’s mock draft?

Miller has Hall taking a Zach Wilson-like ascent up the draft board, going No. 9 overall to the Seattle Seahawks.

In Miller’s mock draft, Hall is the fourth quarterback taken overall — with five going in picks 5 through 10.

“There is a lot of projection involved with a mock draft almost a year out from the real thing, but it shouldn’t be out of the question that Hall makes the leap into the top-10 discussion. He has big-play ability stacked on a 6-foot-1 frame and can produce with a whip-strong right arm or shifty mobility,” Miller wrote. 

“His 20 touchdown passes to five interceptions point to his accuracy and smart decision-making. The Seahawks need a quarterback with Russell Wilson now in Denver, and they are a candidate to watch for a potential trade up.”

Hall, who prepped at Maple Mountain High, is coming off his first season as BYU’s starting quarterback after he took over for Wilson.

Wilson, of course, saw his NFL draft stock skyrocket up after a stellar junior season, and he went No. 2 overall to the New York Jets in the 2020 NFL draft.

For those clamoring that Hall — or any other underclassmen prospects for that matter — haven’t proven themselves as first-round talents, Miller reminded readers that this is “an extremely early evaluation based on 2021 tape, expected progression from prospects and expected NFL team needs. 

“A lot should and will change once we get new information (from game tape to injuries) from each prospect,” Miller wrote. “And with name, image and likeness (NIL) deals changing the landscape of college sports, it’s no longer a guarantee stars will leave early for the pros.”

What other Utah ties are projected as first-round draft picks?

Miller’s mock draft predicts a very successful 2023 draft for Utah-developed talent, one that could be among the most successful for the state all-time.

Late in the first round, he has two defenders who call Utah home being drafted. Like Hall, both are underclassmen.

Baylor Bears defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 31-24. | Sam Hodde, Associated Press

First is Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika, who played at East High, going No. 29 to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“If you watched the Chargers in 2022, you know how important it is that their defense improves against the run. Ika would boost the interior immediately,” Miller wrote. 

“The 6-foot-4, 350-pound tackle is an anchor in the middle, and he also has enough quickness to make an impact as a pass-rusher (he had four sacks in 2021). He’s not quite on the Jordan Davis level of speed and physical traits for a big man, but his NFL usage could be similar.”

Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell (1) and Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal celebrate after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. | Andy Nelson, Associated Press
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Next is Oregon inside linebacker Noah Sewell, a former Orem High star, going No. 30 to the Dallas Cowboys.

“Sewell’s play at Oregon has been amazing to watch as he developed into a true three-down defender. The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder has elite size to go along with great quickness and processing speed,” Miller wrote. 

“And we can’t forget to mention his versatility. As is becoming so important, he’s as good rushing the quarterback as he is playing in coverage.”

Unlike Hall, this isn’t the first time both Ika and Sewell have shown up as first-round prospects for the 2023 draft. The pair are the most likely Utah candidates, at this point, to hear their names called during Day 1 of the 2023 draft.

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