Handing out 2023 NFL Draft grades for every first-round pick with analysis of the fit, value and more for all 31 selections and trades.
After months of parsing through mock drafts, scouting reports and analysis, there is no more time for that. The 2023 NFL Draft is here and teams will be on the clock throughout the first round in Kansas City and the first 31 selections of the draft.
This has been one of the most chaotic and pre-draft processes in recent memory. We know that the top quarterbacks in the class, specifically the big four with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, are going to go early, but as to where and then what will happen to the likes of Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and so on around them, it’s anyone’s guess.
Again, though, the time for speculating as to what’s going to happen in the draft has passed. Now it’s all about what is happening, what it means for the teams making the picks, and how the newest members of the NFL fit with their new teams.
And we’re here to provide all of the analysis you could hope for as we’re ready to hand out 2023 NFL Draft grades for all 31 first-round picks and for any trades that transpire throughout what should be a truly wild first round.
Obviously, handing out NFL Draft grades immediately after the picks is a bit short-sighted, but we can certainly provide context and analysis of every move that’s made in Round 1 with what we know about these prospects, the value in taking them where they were selected, and how they fit with a team given needs, situations and so on.
With that, let’s get into our 2023 NFL Draft grades and analysis for the first round!
2023 NFL Draft Grades for every first-round pick and trade
Panthers Grade for Bryce Young: A
Let’s be frank, we’ve known about this one for quite a while. It’s become clear that Bryce Young was the pick for the Panthers after they traded up to No. 1 to draft a quarterback.
For me, though, this was the obvious choice and the right one. Yes, Young comes with uncertainty because the 5-foot-10 quarterback is a size outlier in the NFL for his position. But every quarterback in the class has a large question mark about them. When it comes to the Alabama product, though, he showed the most as a quarterback, a playmaker, and a leader among his peers in this draft class. Moreover, playing behind a strong line and aided by a good defense, Young steps into a situation that is less dire than other places could’ve been.
Texans Grade for C.J. Stroud: A
After all of the back-and-forth that we heard about the Texans with the No. 2 overall pick, they went out and made the right choice.
The fact of the matter is that Houston has been in need of a quarterback since the Deshaun Watson situation completely deteriorated. Stroud was my second-best quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft class and, given the situation, this was the pick they had to make. There are questions with Stroud in terms of playmaking and mobility based on the tape, but the Texans now have a firm plan at quarterback and didn’t overthink this pick.
Texans trade up from No. 12 to No. 3 with Cardinals
Cardinals Grade for Trade: A+ – Frankly, this was a massive win for the Cardinals. Arizona has one of the worst rosters in the league — if not the outright worse. They wanted out of the No. 3 pick and they got a huge haul, still picking in the Top 15, getting the second pick of Day 2 and picking up an extra first-rounder next year.
Texans Grade for Trade: B+ – This was a move Houston was in a good spot to make given the draft capital they have from the Deshaun Watson trade. They wanted the best defender and had the picks to burn to make it happen.
Texans Grade for Will Anderson Jr.: A
After the trade, this was the obvious move. There was a lot of talk pre-draft that they could like Tyree Wilson over Anderson, but the Alabama product is a sure thing. He’s a polished pass-rusher with elite get-off and heavy hands. He can have a huge impact on this defense that needs a star, especially with new head coach DeMeco Ryans getting to work with him.
Colts Grade for Anthony Richardson: A-
I’m tacking on a minus here for the Colts taking Richardson because, well, I’m a bit underwhelmed by the fit. Make no mistake, if things go right for Richardson, he can be a monster at the NFL level. He’s a physical marvel. But he’s also a player that needs patience and I’m not sure Indianapolis gives him that. However, at the same time, new head coach Shane Steichen is a great mind for the Florida product to work with, so it’s still a great selection overall.
Seahawks Grade for Devon Witherspoon: A
With the divided reports about the Seahawks’ level of comfort with taking Jalen Carter in this spot, it felt like they were always going another way. Witherspoon is a phenomenal player who tested well, has great coverage skills and versatility on tape, and should be a great fit alongside 2022 draft gem Tariq Woolen. More importantly, they didn’t reach on Tyree Wilson in this spot.
Trade: Cardinals move back into Top 10 with Lions deal
Cardinals Grade: A- – Smart move for the Cardinals with the way the board was falling. They have a player they like in their crosshairs and now have extra draft capital so that they can spend their second-round pick to make this type of move.
Lions Grade: B+ – This would be an A if not for Jalen Carter still being on the board, a player who could’ve been a game-changer for this Lions defense. Even still, getting more picks to keep building out the roster is a smart move.
Cardinals Grade for Paris Johnson Jr.: A+
There was a good chance that Johnson was coming off of the board in the next few picks and he was the clear target for the Cardinals. Kyler Murray expressed that he wanted Johnson to be the selection and that’s because he needs protection. Johnson is a stalwart on the end of the offensive line and someone who can help lay the foundation for the offense. And we give an A+ for getting an extra first-round pick next year by moving down before moving back up.
Raiders Grade for Tyree Wilson: C+
Kudos to the Raiders for recognizing that their pass rush has no future and doing something to address it. The problem is that Tyree Wilson, at least for me, isn’t the player that many are hyping him up to be.
Yes, he has the profile and the physical tools to succeed, but even in the Big 12, he had only eight sacks last year and was not as effective as you’d like a Top 10 pick to be. Moreover, there is an injury history there. I wouldn’t have taken Wilson in the Top 15 or maybe the Top 20 — maybe that’s a hot take, but I’m sticking to my guns here.
Falcons Grade for Bijan Robinson: B+
If this were any other running back, this pick wouldn’t be seeing the B range for the grade here. But the fact of the matter is that Bijan Robinson is truly special. He’s an elite running back with the ability to make plays in every facet of the game. As the Falcons try to see what they have in Desmond Ridder, Robinson gives him another weapon. It’s also helped by the way the club improved the defense this offseason in free agency.
Trade: Eagles send 2024 fourth-rounder to Bears to move up one spot
Eagles Grade: A+ – The Eagles moved up one spot to get potentially the best player in the draft and put him in the best place to succeed — and it only cost a fourth next year. Huge win.
Bears Grade: B+ – Honestly, this is a nothing move for the Bears. They pick up a Day 3 selection next year to move down and get the player they would’ve selected at No. 9. Nothing spectacular to speak of but a fine decision.
Eagles Grade for Jalen Carter: A+
Look, we know all about the off-field stuff for Jalen Carter that caused his stock to fall — in addition to a wildly disappointing pro day showing — but the fact of the matter is his tape shows an all-world type of defensive line talent. Now he comes into a situation with an extremely strong culture with several former Georgia teammates in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean. This is now a Super Bowl contender getting the No. 1 prospect for many. Almost unfair.
Bears Grade for Darnell Wright: B-
Make no mistake, Darnell Wright is going to be a good right tackle in the NFL and his tape playing on that side showed as much. Having said that, taking him at No. 10 is a bit rich as I had him going more around the 20th pick than this. Peter Skoronski or Broderick Jones would’ve been the better pick in this spot for the Bears, even if they do get Justin Fields more protection up front, something they badly needed to do.
Titans Grade for Peter Skoronski: A+
With all of the talk about potentially trading up or even drafting a quarterback, this is my favorite spot for the Titans. They aren’t in a position to help a young quarterback, a draft pick or Malik Willis, with the state of the offensive line. Now they add my top-rated lineman in the class in Skoronski. He might be a guard at the NFL level with his arm length but he was a brick-wall at Northwestern and is going to be a plug-and-play starter in the NFL.
Lions Grade for Jahmyr Gibbs: D
Is Jahmyr Gibbs going to be good for the Lions? Absolutely, especially with his dynamic ability behind that offensive line. Could this pick have waited until the end of the first round and perhaps until the start of Day 2? Also yes.
This was a massive reach for Detroit here and, while I’m excited about what Gibbs brings to the offense, it’s terrible value and a terrible use of resources to take the Alabama running back this early.
Packers Grade for Lukas Van Ness: C
With Preston Smith likely gone soon, there is a definite need on the defensive front seven for the Packers.
But how in the world do they not take Jaxon Smith-Njigba or one of the top tight ends here? Van Ness is extremely talented and has upside, but he’s unproven and the talent on defense right now isn’t the issue in Green Bay — it’s the weapons around new QB1 Jordan Love. This feels like a whiff and a fallback into old, frustrating patterns.
Trade: Steelers move ahead of Jets in deal with Patriots
Steelers Grade: A+ – The Steelers clearly made getting a top offensive lineman a priority and they had to jump the Jets. To only give up a fourth-rounder to make this happen, it feels like a no-brainer move to make.
Patriots Grade: B – Trading behind the Jets and Commanders could take the Patriots out of getting the player they want as both teams have similar needs. With that said, it’s not a far move down and they get an extra early Day 3 pick.
Steeler Grade for Broderick Jones: A+
There’s a good chance that Broderick Jones ends up being the best offensive lineman in this draft and I love the fit in Pittsburgh. They moved up to get their guy and for good reason. Kenny Pickett needs more protection and Jones can provide that as an absolute mauler and freak athlete at tackle that should be able to start and play at a high level right away for the Steelers.
Jets Grade for Will McDonald IV: C+
I fully understand that the Steelers sniped the Jets by trading up to take Jones. Having said that, Will McDonald IV was not the pick with the likes of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Christian Gonzalez, or a litany of other players still on the board. McDonald is all projection and, while he could develop into something nice under Robert Saleh, it’s way more of a risk than the Jets should be taking after the Aaron Rodgers trade opened up the Super Bowl window.
Commanders Grade for Emmanuel Forbes: B
When you look at the cover skills and then the special teams ability of Emmanuel Forbes, you like the make-up and talent of who the Commanders are getting. That being said, he’s extremely slight, weighing in at under 170 pounds at the Combine. That’s worrisome making the jump tot he NFL and the 16th pick might’ve been a bit too rich for my liking.
Patriots Grade for Christian Gonzalez: A+
Well, you have to tip your cap to Bill Belichick and the Pats. They navigated the draft perfectly as they traded down and got an extra fourth-round pick and still landed a player who was a Top 10 prospect in the class on my board. Gonzalez has a ton of physical tools and explosiveness but has the coverage ability to match perfectly. He’s a stud and the Patriots defense just got a lot better on Thursday night.
Lions Grade for Jack Campbell: C+
I’m actually higher on Jack Campbell than a lot of people in the industry — but even then, this is absolutely about 20-30 picks too soon for the Iowa linebacker to be coming off of the board. He will improve the linebacker room in Detroit, without question. But how this team turned No. 6 and 18 into a running back, linebacker, and some extra draft capital is wild to me and it’s hard to be a big fan of this.
Buccaneers Grade for Calijah Kancey: B+
In the wake of losing Tom Brady, this could’ve been a Will Levis spot but I’m a bigger fan of the Bucs taking Kancey in this spot. While undersized for a traditional defensive tackle, the fact of the matter is that he draws Aaron Donald-lite comps for a reason. He’s a menace in the trenches as a penetrator and pass-rusher and could be a force in Todd Bowles’ defense as they have to make things work with this roster that needs serious reshaping.
Seahawks Grade for Jaxon Smith-Njigba: A+
Absolutely love this for Seattle. They invested this offseason in Geno Smith and now they improve the situation around him after making the defense better earlier. Tyler Lockett isn’t getting any younger and they need a slot weapon to pair with him and DK Metcalf. Smith-Njigba is the best possible option for that, an ultra-crafty and highly refined route-runner who can make plays at will, even if he’s not the greatest athlete.
Chargers Grade for Quentin Johnston: A
Johnston is one of the most confusing players in the draft because he looks the part of a big-bodied playmaker who wins in traffic, but he’s actually the opposite. He’s a quick mover and a beast after the catch as a great athlete. I love the Chargers getting this weapon for Justin Herbert, especially as Keenan Allen might be getting a bit gray and Mike Williams has endured problems staying healthy for a full season.
Ravens Grade for Zay Flowers: B+
After signing Odell Beckham Jr. as the precursor to getting the Lamar Jackson deal done, which happened on Thursday, it felt like wide receiver was always in play with the 22nd pick. Flowers is a great fit in this receiver room and strengthens it in a way Baltimore really needs with his deep-threat ability alongside OBJ and Rashod Bateman. The only reason this isn’t an A grade is that there are actually more pressing needs on defense.
Vikings Grade for Jordan Addison: A
Yes. With the departure of Adam Thielen this offseason, the Vikings needed a running mate for Justin Jefferson and Addison is absolutely perfect forthis. He’s a crafty player who makes plays after the catch. Pairing him with the explosiveness and savvy of Jefferson will be a dream for Kevin O’Connell in this offense and it’s a great spot for them to be picking.
Trade: Giants move up one spot after run on receivers
Giants Grade: C – Unless they knew for certain that a team was coming up to take a cornerback and especially after the run on receivers, I have no idea why the Giants gave up two picks to mover up one spot.
Jaguars Grade: A- – Jaguars clearly felt comfortable moving back and still getting their guy, so grabbing more draft capital is huge for them, especially since this wasn’t the only move down.
Giants Grade for Deonte Banks: B-
Not a huge fan of the trade down, which knocks the grade for me, but I love the player and fit. The Giants needed quarterback help in a major way, especially with the passing attacks in the NFC East. I had Banks as my CB3 in this class and the Maryland product has the movement ability and footwork to come in and be an effective Day 1 starter for the G-Men.
Trade: Bills jump Cowboys to take tight end, Jags move back again
Bills Grade: A – Hindsight is 20/20, but jumping ahead of the Cowboys to get a player the Bills could really use is a great move by Buffalo, especially at only the cost of a fourth-rounder.
Bills Grade for Dalton Kincaid: A+
The Bills have been missing a pass-catcher for Josh Allen that they now get with Dalton Kincaid. While Dawson Knox has developed nicely, he’s still more of a seam threat than an underneath target that can make plays all over the field and tough plays in the intermediate areas consistently. That’s what Kincaid brings to the table and can be an X-factor for the offense right away.
Cowboys Grade for Mazi Smith: A-
Some people weren’t high on the Mazi Smith selection, thinking the Cowboys should’ve taken Michael Mayer. While I don’t disagree about tight end, Smith is overflowing with potential as a crazy good athlete and a potential monster on the interior that the Dallas defense has been lacking. With Dan Quinn developing him, this is a great pickup here for the Cowboys.
Jaguars Grade for Anton Harrison: A
In the wake of news that Cam Robinson will be suspended to start the 2023 season and with Jawaan Taylor now in Kansas City, tackle made sense and Anton Harrison is a stud for the Jags with this pick. He’s a butt-kicker on the edge and has nice movement skills, so much so that some scouts had him as the top tackle in the draft. While I wouldn’t go that far, trading down and still getting him is a big win for Jacksonville.
Bengals Grade for Myles Murphy: B+
With some of the pieces that the Bengals lost on defense this offseason — and with both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs going so early — this felt like a natural move for Cincinnati. Admittedly, I’m not too bullish on Murphy as he’s not put the whole package together despite having the tools, but the room to develop into something special is there, which is why B+ feels comfortable.
Saints Grade for Bryan Bresee: B+
Bryan Bresee can be a star if he can stay healthy and put it all together. The question is why that hasn’t happened yet for a former No. 1 overall recruit. Injuries have played a role, but the Saints are taking a worthwhile swing with this pick. The only knock I have is not looking potentially at offensive line at one of the elite guards still on the board or at an edge rusher, but Bresee still profiles as an impact player for New Orleans with high upside as well.
Eagles Grade for Nolan Smith: A+
Please welcome your Philadelphia Dawgs to the field. That makes three straight first-round picks for the Eagles on Georgia defenders, but it’s hard to blame them. Smith is an athletic freak who is already a good run defender but is a bit slight for a traditional edge rusher. Given the success that Philly has had with Haason Reddick, though, this feels like a home-run pick, especially pairing him with Carter on this already-loaded defensive unit.
Chiefs Grade for Felix Anudike-Uzomah: A-
Kansas City moving on from Frank Clark this offseason, even after taking George Karlaftis a year ago, left a need for the team on the edge. Anudike-Uzomah isn’t going to be an immediate superstar, but he’s a tough, sound player on the edge who is great against the run and developing as a pass-rusher with tools to build upon. This is a nice way for the champs to end the first round.