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2023 NFL Draft Grades (Round 1)

Image Credit: (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

Twitter: @NicholasMullick

Happy Draft Day Everybody. We are officially here. Gosh time has gone by so fast. So like I did last year I will be grading every selection that was made in every round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Of course we will start with round 1. As always If I give a HACKENBERG Grade that is of course a failing grade. I call it a HACKENBERG as a remind of former Jets prospect Christian Hackenberg who is the worst draft choice in New York Jets History. Let’s get right into the grade where the Carolina Panthers are now on the clock.

1. Carolina Panthers (From Chicago Bears) - QB Bryce Young (Alabama) Grade A

No joke, I am writing this part 24 hours before the NFL Draft begins, because this pick is absolutely going to be Bryce Young. Carolina Trading up was a telling sign that they were absolutely going to draft a quarterback with their 1st Overall Pick. They have had a tough time trying to replace Cam Newton (The First Tenure). They already gambled with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Now they ensure they get the guy they want and the best QB prospect in this class and that is clearly Bryce Young. A no brainer pick for the Panthers here.

2. Houston Texans - QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) Grade A

Wow, the Texans are making a competent decision. So, WTF were they thinking with that Tweet they sent out a few days ago. The Texans needed a quarterback on this team. I am a Davis Mills guy, but he is not a franchise QB. They signed Case Keenum, but he has not been great for the past few years now. The Texans have a true opportunity with Stroud as there QB.

3. Houston Texans (from Arizona Cardinals) - DE/EDGE Will Anderson (Alabama) Grade A+

Are you sure this is the Houston Texans making this pick? Wow what an absolute draft move by the Texans. They desperately need a pass rusher as they have not had a consistently great once since JJ Watt. The trade is a steep bill, but Anderson is easily the best defensive prospect in the NFL Draft.

4. Indianapolis Colts - QB Anthony Richardson (Florida) Grade HACKENBERG

What an awful selection by the Indianapolis Colts. Taking the most overrated prospect in this draft class. Richardson had three great attributes, a rocket arm, athleticism, and great combine performance. That's it. He is awful in the rest of the tools needed to be a QB in the NFL. He is a super Raw Prospect and it still stuns me he declared this early along with being taken in the Top 5. This is a boom or bust pick here and signs point to him being a bust.

5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) - CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) Grade B-

Over Jalen Carter and Tyree Wilson? I did not expect this at all. Do I hate it overall? No, as Seattle needed a cornerback, but there were much bigger needs. Witherspoon helps bolster that secondary though and it scares me with what Woolen and Witherspoon will do together. The B to me if for the player, but the minus is that this was not a need and the Seahawks passed on talented players that would have helped fix this team.

6. Arizona Cardinals (from Los Angeles Rams via Detroit Lions) - OT Paris Johnson (Ohio State) Grade A

I like it. Arizona trading up to help fix their offensive lineman. The o-line was old and terrible last season. Whoever their QB will be week 1 the Cardinals have to provide them with protection and they did that with Johnson. All for moving up to this spot to give up a 2nd round pick, Not bad Arizona, not bad at all.

7. Las Vegas Raiders - DE/EDGE Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) Grade B+

This is the eventual Chandler Jones replacement on defense. He showed signs of regression last season and while the Raiders love copycatting the Patriots, long term Jones won’t be here. Tyree Wilson is a nice selection that should pair well with Maxx Crosby. Can’t complain too much, but I am kind of surprised that the Raiders did not go offense. I don’t hate it.

8. Atlanta Falcons - RB Bijan Robinson (Texas) Grade C

I am stunned this pick is not Skoronski as the Falcons were big fans of his. I get that Bijan has talent, but there were much bigger needs at that spot for Atlanta. Allgeier was solid for the Falcons last season and they also have Cordarrelle Patterson as well at running back. I guess the Falcons view Bijan as too good to pass on which I don’t blame them for. The past few years they spent a first on TE with Pitts, then 1st on WR with London, and now a 1st on RB. They better hope Desmond Ridder is the guy at QB as Arthur Smith is on the hot seat.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (From Carolina Panthers, via Chicago Bears) - DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) Grade A

The Eagles don’t need defensive tackle, but Carter is just too good to pass on. He will be a great replacement for Javon Hargrave as well. Which is why the Eagles traded up one spot to get him. Now I can’t grade it an A+ due to the character issues and I don’t think they needed to trade up to get him. Gosh that defensive line is super scary though.

10. Chicago Bears (From New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles) - OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee) Grade D

WHOA over Broderick Jones and Peter Skoronski? I don’t know about that one. I like Darnell Wright and there is so many intriguing attributes that surround him, but I saw Wright as going in the 21-31 range. This was a reach to me. Its not HACKENBERG level as the Bears needed a tackle, but there were much better options.

11. Tennessee Titans - OG/T Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) Grade A+

I bet Ran Carthon rushed to get to the podium to make this pick. The Fact Skoronski was available here with the o-line issues with the Titans, I mean Green Light. The Titans o-line has fallen apart since they lost Jack Conklin and taking Skoronski could help fill a need at tackle. Worse for worse he can fit at guard too. Excellent choice by the Titans.

12. Detroit Lions (From Cleveland, via Houston texans, via Arizona Cardinals) - RB Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama) Grade HACKENBERG

WHAT?!?!?!?!? They took Gibbs at pick 12? Are you okay in the head Detroit? You do realize you have the 18th pick. How they passed on Christian Gonzalez here boggles my mind. This pick makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I get you need to replace Jamaal Williams, but why did you spend money on Montgomery? Even D’Andre Swift is on the team as well. What are they doing here? This is a HACKENBERG Grade.

13. Green Bay Packers (From New York Jets) - DE/EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) Grade B+

I am kind of surprised this pick is not a wide receiver or Tight end, but the Packers did need pass rush, so I am not going to complain with this selection. Their defense has a ton of issues and with multiple 2nd round picks, they can wait to take a receiver or tight end at that spot. He was the next best pass rusher on the board, so I can’t complain here.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (From New England Patriots) - OT Broderick Jones (Georgia) Grade A

Shocked, the Steelers did not go with Joey Porter Jr. After all taking a guy like him would be the typical Steelers way choice for this team to make. This team desperately needed a tackle as their o-line is terrible and like I said Chukwuma Okorafor is the most overrated tackle in the NFL. Protecting Pickett is the right way to go here.

15. New York Jets (From Green Bay Packers) - DE/EDGE Will McDonald (Iowa State) Grade HACKENBERG

OH MY FREAKING GOD!!! They took a 3rd round prospect in the middle of the 1st round. What are they doing? Over Nolan Smith, Myles Murphy, BJ Ojulari, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Isaiah Foskey, and heck even Keion White If you're going to go pass rush here, there were much better options. DE/EDGE was not even the biggest need for the Jets. This pick makes no sense at all.

16 Washington Commanders - CB Emmanuel Forbes Grade C-

I don’t hate the position, but I hate the prospect they took. I had 6 other secondary prospects ranked ahead of Forbes. I am not going to completely hate the selection made, as the Commanders secondary is horrendous and they needed to use this pick on cornerback. I am baffled that the Commanders passed on Gonzalez and Branch here.

17. New England Patriots (From Pittsburgh Steelers) - CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) Grade A+

How Gonzalez fell to this spot is so surprising. When I saw the Commanders pass on Gonzalez, I knew the Patriots were not going to pass on arguably the best cornerback in the class. As a fan of the Jets it makes me nervous that Gonzalez is now a New England Patriot as that helps boost their defense.

18. Detroit Lions - LB Jake Campbell Grade D

Over Drew Sanders and Trenton Simpson? I had a late 2nd/early 3rd round grade for Campbell. This is yet another bizarre pick the Lions made, but I prefer this more than the Gibbs selection. The Lions did need a Linebacker, but it was not a tremendous need. There were much better prospects to take here.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DT Calijah Kancey (Pittsburgh) Grade C

Uhh Tampa, that's the wrong line choice to draft here. I don’t hate Kancey, but there were much better choices at this spot and more needs to fill. Their defensive line gets better and he and Vita Vea should dominate on that defense. Maybe the Buccaneers thought he was too good to pass on which I don’t mind. I have to give the grade a C here and this is mainly because Tampa had bigger needs and I don’t think they should have drafted Kancey here.

20. Seattle Seahawks - WR Jaxon Smith-Nijigba Grade A+

Easy A+ grade here. I am stunned Smith-Nijigba fell to this spot for the Seahawks. Getting Geno Smith a potential number one receiver to pair with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at 20 is just wonderful. Great job Seattle.

21. Los Angeles Chargers - WR Quinten Johnson (TCU) Grade A-

I prefer Zay Flowers at this spot, but Johnson is not a terrible choice either. After the incompetence of how the Chargers handled Week 18 last season it exposed that the Chargers needed depth at wide receiver. So, at this spot they go after the taller receiver by taking Johnson which is a nice get to give Herbert another receiver to throw too.

22. Baltimore Ravens - WR Zay Flowers (Boston College) Grade A

Nobody should be surprised that the Ravens took a receiver. It was either going to be Jordan Addison or Zay Flowers. Flowers is the better overall prospect and better fit on the Ravens offensive scheme. Plus this keeps Lamar happy and gives him another weapon to throw too. Not bad Baltimore.

23. Minnesota Vikings - WR Jordan Addison (USC) Grade A

This is the Adam Thielen replacement on offense. Due to cap issues, the Vikings had to get rid of him and with Thielen’s departure, the Vikings needed a wide receiver. Addison fits the bill and scheme the Vikings run as well. In what could be Kirk Cousins last chance winning with the Vikings, they have to give him more receivers to throw too.

24. New York Giants (From Jacksonville Jaguars) - CB Deonte Banks (Maryland) Grade B

Not bad, while many are upset the Giants did not go receiver, the Giants had to get a press cornerback on this defense. Banks fits Don Martindale defensive scheme too, so this pick makes a lot of sense to make. I would prefer the Giants go offense here, but I don't fault them for going Banks here and he has athletic upside.

25. Buffalo Bills (From New York Giants via Jacksonville Jaguars) - TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah) Grade A-

Over Michael Mayer? I don’t hate Kincaid and there is a lot to like about him, but back injuries really scare me. Besides that Kincaid is a fine player to take here. I don’t think Dawson Knox is a great tight end, but the Bills have tried getting a 2nd tight end for a good bit of time now. Remember the OJ Howard and Tommy Sweeney experiments.

26. Dallas Cowboys - DT Mazi Smith (Michigan) Grade C

I would have taken Mayer here, but Mazi Smith is not a terrible choice either. The Cowboys did need a defensive tackle and their run defense was a weakness last season. He still is a little Raw as a defensive tackle, but he is super talented. If he can fix his technical skills, then this should work out.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (From Buffalo Bills) - OT Anton Harrison (Oklahoma) Grade B-

This is the Jawaan Taylor replacement on the offensive line. Probably the Cam Robinson replacement as well as he is facing a suspension for a PED violation. This pick had to be at tackle. I get why they went with Harrison, but I preferred two other tackle prospects in OT Blake Freeland and Dawand Jones. In the interior o-line I liked John Michael Schmitz and O’Cyrus Torrence, but I get why Jags went Tackle.

28. Cincinnati Bengals - DE/EDGE Myles Murphy Grade A+

The Bengals don’t need a pass rusher, but Murphy is just way too good for them to pass on. In fact it surprises me that he is still available at this spot as well. I thought that he would ho in the mid 1st round, but at this spot, screw it. Does not hurt to have as much depth at pass rusher and strengthen the defense.

29. New Orleans Saints (From San Francisco 49ers, via Denver Broncos) - DT Bryan Bresee (Clemson) Grade C+

Not shocked as the Saints lost a ton of talent on the defensive line. Say what you want about Bresee as he is a decent prospect to choose in the 1st, but you can’t ignore how important it was to fill the need of interior defensive line. There are injury concerns that surround Breese which have resulted in his fall, but the talent is there.

30. Philadelphia Eagles - DE/EDGE Nolan Smith (Georgia) Grade A+

This is the eventual Brandon Graham replacement on defense. Remember the Eagles almost lost a big chunk of the defensive line, so both 1st round picks had to be on defensive tackle and defensive end. They already took Carter, so why not take his teammate in Nolan Smith. Are the Eagles trying to make their defense Georgia North with Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter and now Nolan Smith on their team. I like this pick so much for the Eagles and it shows that Howie Roseman is a Genius.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - DE/EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah Grade D+

I get why they picked a pass rusher, but I am not a big fan of taking Anudike-Uzomah. I prefer Ojulari, Adebawore, Foskey, and White in my opinion. This was probably a selection made as Anudike-Uzomah fits the scheme more. They did need a pass rusher as excluding George Karlaftis, I can’t think of another pass rusher on the team. Especially as they cut Frank Clark and parted ways with Carlos Dunlap. To me the grade is D for the player and + is for filling the team's needs.



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