National Football League
NFL Draft picks, grades and analysis: Will Levis still on board after Round 1
National Football League

NFL Draft picks, grades and analysis: Will Levis still on board after Round 1

Updated Apr. 28, 2023 2:48 p.m. ET

The 2023 NFL Draft is finally here! Here's analysis and grades on every first-round selection from draft expert Rob Rang.

1) Carolina Panthers (from Chicago): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Rang: If he were only a couple of inches taller, there would not have been any debate leading up to the draft as to the identity of the top quarterback available. While shorter than scouts would prefer, Young is a natural at the quarterback position, demonstrating terrific field vision, accuracy and improvisational skills for when the play breaks down. The concern in Carolina now shifts from finding a true franchise pillar at quarterback — which I believe Young will be — to making sure that he isn’t throwing to lesser talent in Charlotte than he did in Tuscaloosa. 

Grade: A


Alabama QB Bryce Young highlights

2) Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Rang: While questions about the S2 cognitive test and his readiness to make the leap from the mostly half-field reads he was asked to make at Ohio State dogged him a bit during the pre-draft process, the film shows that Stroud possesses the most pinpoint accuracy from this draft class. He may need some time to acclimate, but Stroud projects as a future All-Pro gunslinger. The Texans got a star in Stroud.

Grade: A

Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud highlights

3) Houston Texans (trade from Arizona): Will Anderson, OLB, Alabama

Rang: Viewed by most as the best defensive prospect in the 2023 NFL draft, Anderson is considered ultra-safe because of his instincts, competitiveness and eye-popping production over three years in Tuscaloosa, leaving with 34.5 career sacks and 58.5 tackles for loss — second most in school history to only the late Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas. At 6-4, 253 pounds, Anderson is more powerful than he looks, dominating opponents with technique and toughness and projecting as a franchise cornerstone. While some anticipated that Houston general manager Nick Caserio would follow the more-conservative approach Bill Belichick subscribed to New England, the bold trade up for Anderson shows these Texans are seeking a more immediate jump in the standings.

Grade: A

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. highlights

4) Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Rang: With only 13 career starts and a 54% completion rate, Richardson lacks experience and the proven accuracy that typically results in NFL success. But, at 6-foot-5, 243 pounds, the 4.4 speed and howitzer he possesses as an arm are special traits, and Richardson shows surprising savvy as a pocket passer, manipulating defenders with his eyes, as well as his feet. He also offers immediate impact potential as a run threat, especially given the rugby-style scrum plays utilized so effectively last year by new Colts coach Shane Steichen in Philadelphia with star dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts. There is no denying that Richardson comes with some bust potential, but I see a younger version of Cam Newton and a future MVP candidate.

Grade: B+

5) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Rang: Witherspoon probably ranks as one of the favorite players in this class for a lot of scouts, as few can match his ferocity as a competitor. I’ll put it as simply as I can — Witherspoon was the best player on the best defense in football last year — an Illinois squad that allowed just 12.77 points per game. Man or zone, press or off, he’s a Day 1 tone-setter, and for the Seahawks, he’s an immediate upgrade over veteran Mike Jackson opposite last year’s rookie star, Tariq Woolen.

Grade: A

Illinois DB Devon Witherspoon highlights

6) Arizona Cardinals (trade from Detroit through L.A. Rams): Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State

Rang: Look, let’s not overthink this. Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud threw the ball 389 times last year and Johnson — in his first season at left tackle — allowed just two sacks. That is the pass-blocking prowess that has Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray so excited. Given the gauntlet of talented defenses Johnson and the Buckeyes conquered over the course of the year, I refuse to accept the notion that he is a one-year wonder at left tackle, instead projecting that he’ll continue to improve in Year 2 at the position. At minimum, Jones has proven positional versatility and his game is built on two factors that consistently win in the NFL — length and strength. Kudos to the Cardinals for trading down and still getting the player they considered at No. 3.

Grade: A

7) Las Vegas Raiders: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech 

Rang: The troublesome foot injury that sidelined Wilson in November, required surgery and has kept him from working out prior to the draft may have played a role in his slipping to this point. When healthy, Wilson’s combination of power and agility for a man with his incredible wingspan is quite rare and scouts are understandably enamored with his upside. At 6-foot-6 and 271 pounds, Wilson is a naturally large man, but he has the reach of a 7-2 NBA center, giving him the length to lasso ballcarriers out of the grasp of most. Assuming the foot is healthy, Wilson can be a star. 

Grade: A-

Texas Tech linebacker Tyree Wilson highlights

8) Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Rang: It isn’t often that a running back enters the league viewed as one of the true "blue-chip" talents in the class but Robinson is exceptional, boasting all of the traits necessary to be an immediate NFL superstar. He is quick to and through the hole and possesses excellent contact balance, doing a better job of turning short runs into long gains than any back that has entered the draft in years. Robinson will be featured in this offense — the most run-heavy in the NFL last year — and instantly projects as the favorite to be the 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

Grade: A

Texas RB Bijan Robinson highlights

9) Philadelphia Eagles (trade from Chicago through Carolina): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia 

Rang: Carter is the most physically dominant player in this draft, but he fell to No. 9 overall due to persistent questions about his off-field decision-making. It is important to keep some perspective when discussing these young men, as many of us made mistakes as 21-year-olds, as well. The most disturbing thing about Carter is the pattern of his mistakes. The team that gambles on him must have the locker room and support staff to help him mature, or it risks a colossal bust. The Eagles might be better suited to handle this than most, with Carter reuniting with the club’s top pick last year, the even bigger former Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. This is a "get-us-over-the-hump" type of pick by Howie Roseman. If Carter does commit to his craft, he is a potential franchise cornerstone who should quickly rank among the better interior defensive linemen in the league and help Philadelphia return to the Super Bowl … perhaps for years to come. 

Grade: B+

Georgia DT Jalen Carter highlights

10) Chicago Bears (from Philadelphia through New Orleans): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Rang: Today’s NFL is all about protecting the quarterback, and Wright’s success in that department speaks for itself, especially when taking into account that he’s done it in the SEC and from both tackle positions. I think he’s quick enough to switch back to the left side, if needed, and has the grit to even play guard, if that is what his team prefers. It’s easy to be right with Wright, as he’s as plug-and-play as this class gets. I love this selection for Chicago. The Bears have been relatively toothless up front for years and Wright is one of the meanest, nastiest blockers in the class. 

Grade: A

11) Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Rang: As you’ve likely heard by now, the knock on Skoronski is his relatively short arms. Given how well he’s acclimated to the NFL, it seems silly that Skoronski’s predecessor at Northwestern, Rashawn Slater, was once viewed as a potential guard prospect by some scouts because he, too, has relatively short arms (33 inches) and has since starred at left tackle for the Chargers. Perhaps an NFL team will ask Skoronski to do the same, though his arms are significantly shorter (31 1/4 inches) than his former college teammate's. I see his greatest upside inside. With concerns at both tackle and guard, the Titans can plug in Skoronski wherever they see his best immediate fit. 

Grade: A

12) Detroit Lions (trade from Arizona through Houston through Cleveland): Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

Rang: The Lions pulled off the first real shocker of the 2023 NFL Draft with their selection of Gibbs, with solid veterans D’Andre Swift and free-agent David Montgomery. The quintessential "air back" of this class, Gibbs’ game is beautifully suited to today’s up-tempo game, showing the ability to attack defenses as a runner, receiver and returner. He was a stat-monster at the college level and could prove even more lethal in the NFL, much to the delight of both his future club and fantasy football enthusiasts. I really like the player but thought he might be available later, especially given this year’s terrific depth at running back. 

Grade: B-

13) Green Bay Packers (from New York Jets): Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Rang: Van Ness is a unique prospect in that he is both inexperienced and yet so gifted that offers teams a lot of positional and schematic versatility. He’s essentially moldable clay that a creative NFL defensive coordinator could turn into an absolute game-wrecker with a little time. Van Ness reminds me of a young Cameron Jordan at Cal. Jordan was characterized by some as a ‘tweener back in 2011, when he left Cal as a 6-4, 287-pound senior and the Saints scooped him up 24th overall. He’s since been voted to eight Pro Bowls. I love this kid’s upside and fit in Green Bay. 

Grade: A

14) Pittsburgh Steelers (trade from New England): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

Rang: Last year’s investment in Kenny Pickett has a better chance at long-term success if the Steelers can protect him. Jones has a bright future, but he is not as polished as some of the other, more experienced blockers in this class. He has the size and physicality to handle being pushed inside to guard for a year to help him get acclimated to the speed and nuance of the NFL. If he can get a few of the wrinkles in his game ironed out, Jones could be a decade-long pillar. 

Grade: B

15) New York Jets (from Green Bay): Will McDonald, EDGE, Iowa State

Rang: I am dating myself with this reference, but McDonald has Gumby-like flexibility, darn-near shape-shifting his way through traffic to close on the quarterback. That pliability, combined with his explosive burst should make McDonald an annual 10-plus sack candidate in the NFL. Speaking of that number, the fact that McDonald had 10 forced fumbles over his 34 career sacks, just a half-sack off No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson's output, shows how impactful he could be for the Jets. I thought this was a bit early for McDonald, but I really like the player and the fit. 

Grade: B+ 

16) Washington Commanders: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Rang: Forbes is a dynamic player, but his slim frame will give teams pause. Though he weighed in four pounds heavier at his pro day, Forbes’ 166 pounds at the Combine is the same size Eagles’ wideout DeVonta Smith was measured at prior to him being selected in the first round two years ago. That is notable not only because Smith has since gone on to excel in the NFL, but also because he was the lightest non-kicker selected in the NFL’s opening frame since 1942. 

Grade: B

17) New England Patriots (trade from Pittsburgh): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Rang: It is almost unfortunate that the Class of 2023 has so many talented quarterbacks stealing the spotlight, as a "natural" like Gonzalez and this year’s cornerback class really deserve more billing — which we’re watching happen live with back-to-back picks at cornerback. He boasts an exceptional combination of size, athleticism and intangibles, ranking among the safest prospects in this class — and a perfect fit for Bill Belichick, who knows a thing or two about developing quality defensive backs. 

Grade: A

Oregon Ducks cornerback Christian Gonzalez highlights

18) Detroit Lions: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Rang: The two biggest reaches of the 2023 NFL draft, thus far, were both turned in by the Lions. I’m certainly intrigued by the height and change-of-direction combination. And Campbell’s production, as well as Iowa’s track record for producing quality NFL prospects, speak for themselves. But with sub 32-inch arms, Campbell is not as long or explosive as his size would suggest and that could mean trouble at the next level. I take no joy in a contrarian viewpoint on the All-American, but frankly, I view Campbell as currently more of a ‘tweener who needs a clean fit to start in the NFL, rather than the plug-in Pro-Bowler his hype suggests. 

Grade: C

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Rang: Despite what the hype might suggest, Kancey is not the second-coming of Pitt predecessor Aaron Donald (nor Warren Sapp, now that he’s in Tampa Bay). He is certainly disruptive, however. Kancey is the Energizer Bunny of the 2023 NFL draft, attacking opponents with a combination of quickness, power and relentlessness that seems destined to continue generating both big plays and a rabid fan following in the NFL, just like he enjoyed at Pitt. 

Grade: B+

20) Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Rang: JSN is a bit of an enigma in that his relative lack of production at the college level would suggest he’s underdeveloped. After all, 35% of his career receiving yards and four of his 10 touchdowns came in just two games (at Nebraska, and in the Rose Bowl win over Utah to cap the 2021 season). In terms of speed and style, Smith-Njigba couldn’t be more different than his speedy Ohio State predecessors Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, but his surprisingly pro-ready game projects very well, nevertheless. One of the greatest challenges college receivers typically have in making the jump to the NFL is the sudden closer proximity and physicality of defenders. JSN is at his best in traffic, showing the poise and skill set to quickly emerge as a legitimate security blanket for some lucky quarterback. He should star in the slot between DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett

Grade: A-

Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba highlights

21) Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

Rang: Along with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Johnston is the biggest boom or bust prospect of the 2023 NFL draft. The highs and lows of Johnston’s tape are like comparing the Rocky Mountains to the Mariana Trench. Johnston’s upside is that of a future All-Pro. His ability as a vertical threat, however, is what makes him such an intriguing fit for Justin Herbert. 

Grade: B

22) Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Rang: In a receiver class teeming with potential but offering only shreds of consistency, Flowers’ dependability as a big-play magnet stands out. Scoring 31 touchdowns against ACC competition speaks for itself, but further consider that in 2022 — for a team that ranked dead last in the FBS in rushing yards and fired offensive coordinator John McNulty after just one season — Flowers generated at least one play of 30-plus yards in 11 of 12 games. He’s a natural playmaker whose game translates well to the next level, warranting even first-round consideration for some clubs. 

Grade: A

23) Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Addison, WR USC

Rang: Addison may not be as big or dynamic as some of the other top receivers in this class, but he’s a significantly more polished player, winning with fluidity and savviness alike. He has the sure routes and hands to potentially became a real stat-monster in the NFL, specializing out of the slot. The greater size and physicality he’ll face at the pro level are legitimate concerns, but modern NFL rules favor slight pass-catchers like Addison. Proven effective in two different offenses against quality competition, I think he has the grit and smarts to prove a quality starter early in his pro career and should be an immediate boost to a Minnesota offense that needed to find a replacement for Adam Thielen opposite superstar Justin Jefferson. 

Grade: A-

USC WR Jordan Addison highlights

24) New York Giants (trade from Jaguars): Deonte Banks, CB Maryland

Rang: With just two career interceptions — and only one since 2019 — assigning Banks an early-round grade is not for the faint of heart. However, there is simply no denying Banks’ athleticism or the really cool way in which he seemingly always steps up with the lights are shining brightest, including in his splashy performances against Ohio State, at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine, where his 4.35 second time in the 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical jump and 11-4 broad jump proved him arguably the best pure athlete of this stellar cornerback class. 

Grade: B+

25) Buffalo Bills (trade from Jacksonville through New York Giants): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Rang: The beauty of the 2023 tight end class is that it offers several prospects with seemingly untapped potential and many others with terrific production at the college level. Much to the delight of NFL scouts, Kincaid has both. You’ll always wish he was a little bigger, but Kincaid’s quickness, body control and soft hands are perfectly suited to the modern NFL. He should make an immediate impact on his NFL team’s passing game, justifying a first-round pick for a team comfortable with his medical after he missed much of the pre-draft process with a back injury. 

Grade: B

Utah TE Dalton Kincaid highlights

26) Dallas Cowboys: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

Rang: It isn’t often that a 320-plus pounder can be described as "coiled-up," but there is an explosiveness to Smith that is unusual for a player of his build, justifying a first-round selection for a player viewed as mostly a run-defender. This is the antithesis of a typical Jerry Jones pick. Rather than flash, Smith provides raw power and makes Dallas considerably stouter at the line of scrimmage — something necessary if the Cowboys are going to overtake Philadelphia in the NFC East. 

Grade: B+

27) Jacksonville Jaguars (trade from Buffalo): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Rang: Harrison may be a polarizing evaluation for scouts because, at times, he can be more of a "catcher" than a "striker" as a blocker, absorbing contact from defenders and subtly turning them away from the ballcarrier for quiet wins disguised as losses. Concerns about his frame and best position in the NFL are why Harrison was available at this point. At 6-4, 315 pounds, he has a relatively short, squatty frame that appears better suited to guard. I think he’s agile enough to handle offensive tackle, which is a more of a need now given Cam Robinson’s issues. 

Grade: B

28) Cincinnati Bengals: Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

Rang: Murphy may lack some of the flash of others on this list, but he’s safer than a Subaru with his consistent production against elite competition — and his numbers come while playing the premium right defensive end role (facing team’s left tackles). Murphy is already well-known in the scouting community for his "freakish" athleticism, in part due to the yearly list generated by FOX sideline reporter Bruce Feldman. Murphy has all of the traits necessary to be a star but hasn’t progressed from a schematic standpoint. In Cincinnati, however, he’ll be added to a quality rotation, which should ease his transition. 

Grade: B+

29) New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco through Miami and Denver): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

Rang: Bresee is among the most gifted big men in this draft with the kind of talent that'd garner top-10 consideration if medical red flags weren't so ominous. Optimists will point out that even with the hiccups, Bresee was a dominant force for much of his Clemson career. Further, he and his family showed great resiliency in 2022, suffering the loss of Bryan’s younger sister, Ella, to brain cancer at 15 years old. That type of perspective could push Bresee that much harder to fulfill his own, undeniable promise. I like this pick for the Saints, both in terms of the person and fit for a club that needed to add some bodies up front. 

Grade: A-

30) Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia

Rang: Smith was one of my favorite studies of this class, as he is not at all what you’d expect based on his size and workout numbers. While those numbers may suggest a speed rusher, his game is actually more about power and toughness, and he was more productive against the run than the pass at Georgia. Smith personifies that old Mark Twain line: "It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog," which is why I’m confident this Dawg will, yet again, live up to the lofty expectations in the NFL, as well. This Eagles front is terrifying. 

Grade: A

Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith highlights

31) Kansas City Chiefs: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State

Rang: As long as Patrick Mahomes is slinging passes in Kansas City, opposing offenses are going to have to attack offensively in an attempt to keep up. That is where the dynamic local product could star. The 21-year-old Anudike-Uzomah is one of the few players with consistent production and a pro-ready skill set that translates to immediate playing time. In my opinion, he ranks as one of the safest prospects in the entire 2023 draft and an ideal capper for the champs. 

Grade: A-

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