2023 NFL draft: First round instant grades for all 31 picks

1. Carolina Panthers (from Chicago Bears): Bryce Young, QB, Alabama — The Panthers have their new face of the franchise. What Young lacks in size and physical talent, he more than makes up for in skill. Carolina could have taken a more risky pick here with real home run potential like Anthony Richardson, but Young has the skills worthy of this spot. It's a new era in Carolina. Grade: B+

2. Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State — The Texans stayed put and made the most logical pick at this point. They kept their draft capital and still ended up with a top-flight quarterback in Stroud. If his performance against Georgia is who he can be moving forward, this is a slam dunk. He checks off all the boxes. Grade: B+

3. Houston Texans (from Arizona Cardinals): Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama — Anderson is arguably the best defensive player in the draft, but the Texans gave up a lot of draft capital to move up for his services, including trading their 2024 first-round pick to acquire him. He's a sure bet to be a star and the Texans have a pick from the Browns to buffer their loss of draft capital. The loss of draft capital is the only thing knocking this grade down from an A+. Grade: A-

4. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida — The Colts take a home run swing here with Richardson, but he's not as raw as people might think based on his numbers. He has a chance to start as a rookie and push Gardner Minshew II. The Colts' offense, at the very least, became more dynamic. Great move to take a misunderstood prospect here. Grade: A

5. Seattle Seahawks: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois — Witherspoon isn't the biggest cornerback, but he has all the skills to be a top-flight cornerback for the Seahawks. Tariq Woolen and Witherspoon is an uber-talented young pairing and now the Seahawks have a loaded cornerbacks room, which is never a bad thing. His swagger, physicality and ball skills will instantly make the Seahawks tough to beat through the air. Grade: A+

The Seahawks taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon was arguably the best pick of the first round of the NFL Draft. (AP Images for NFL/Doug Benc)
The Seahawks taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon was arguably the best pick of the first round of the NFL Draft. (AP Images for NFL/Doug Benc)

6. Arizona Cardinals (from Detroit Lions): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State — The Cardinals were able to keep the draft pick compensation pretty tame on this selection as they moved back up to take Johnson. He was one of the elite players on the big board this year and will fill in as the Cardinals' immediate starter at right tackle. They still have their picks for the 2024 draft and a potentially elite offensive tackle. Grade: A-

7. Las Vegas Raiders: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech — The Raiders quietly needed pass rush help with Chandler Jones not giving them the impact they were hoping for in his first year with the team. Too much of the onus ended up on the shoulders of Maxx Crosby, making Wilson and his massive upside an essential pick here. Grade: A-

8. Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas — Robinson is an excellent player and will make the Falcons' roster better, but they had some more pressing needs that could have been taken care of this year. The Falcons are almost the test case for why running backs aren't necessary at this point in the draft with Tyler Allgeier being one of the top backs in the league last year, but there is no debating Robinson's talent as an elite player. Grade: C

9. Philadelphia Eagles (from Chicago Bears): Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia — Carter is the best player in the class. When he's healthy, he is the most dominant player on the field from a physical and technical standpoint and will give a championship-caliber defense a championship-caliber player. Grade: A+

10. Chicago Bears (from Philadelphia Eagles): Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee — Wright was the third-ranked player on our big board this year so it's impossible to have a bad grade on this selection. Wright is a stalwart tackle who will give the Bears an offensive line much better than where they were this time last year. Grade: A+

11. Tennessee Titans: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern — I swear, I'm not a pushover with the grading, I just like the picks this year! Skoronski was the fifth-ranked player on the board this year and the Titans have a MASSIVE need all over their offensive line and Skoronski can play all five positions at a high level. Grade: A+

12. Detroit Lions: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama — Are the Lions OK? Gibbs is a huge surprise this early in the draft and absolutely no one had him going in this range. Let's not get carried away, Gibbs is a solid player, but he was ranked 42nd on the Yahoo Sports big board and only 25th on the consensus big board at Pro Football Network. Major reach here for a running back who won't even be the bell cow for this team considering it also signed David Montgomery to a three-year deal. Grade: F

13. Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa — Van Ness is a solid, do-it-all defensive lineman who has room to grow and a high floor. Van Ness needs development before he can be a consistent Pro Bowl-level starter, but guys with his athleticism almost never fail. His presence gives the Packers some flexibility with Preston Smith moving forward as well. Grade: B+

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (from New England Patriots): Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia — Jones is raw as a prospect, but there's no doubting his upside and movement skills at left tackle. For a team that really needed offensive tackle help, he's a quality dice roll. Grade: B

15. New York Jets: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State — McDonald needs some time to adjust to being a full-time defensive end in the NFL, but there's no doubting that he has the physical traits to be an effective edge rusher in the league. He's an older prospect, but traits trump all along the defensive line. He has legitimate bend to cut the corners on offensive tackles, which is something the Jets lack. Grade: B-

16. Washington Commanders: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State — Forbes has a chance to be a sticky man cover corner in the league, but he weighs only 166 pounds, which is concerning. That's small for an NFL player, no matter how you cut it. Talented player, just worry about the size. Grade: C+

17. New England Patriots (from Pittsburgh Steelers): Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon — Gonzalez has all the ability in the world to be a dominant man cover corner in the NFL. Perhaps his lack of physicality is why he was still here, but he was the last of our blue-chip players to come off the big board. Grade: A+

18. Detroit Lions: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa — The Lions could have had Campbell potentially two rounds later than this. Pretty crazy. Campbell is a quality athlete and may turn out to be a solid starter, but this is a major reach. Grade: F

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Calijah Kancey, EDGE, Pittsburgh — Depending on how the Buccaneers plan on deploying Kancey, he may be a grand slam of a pick. He's a bit of a strange fit in their odd man fronts, but if he flexes out to defensive end and plays more on the edge, he has the traits to do it. Defensive line is the one position where it's almost always OK to take chances on the athletes. Grade: B

20. Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State — Great pick for the Seahawks at this point. In the present, they have arguably the best wide receiver trio in the NFL with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and now Smith-Njigba. The pick of Smith-Njigba will keep their receivers room strong even after Lockett moves on from the Seahawks in the coming years. Grade: A

21. Los Angeles Chargers: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU — Johnston fills a need at receiver, but they could have used someone with a bit more juice as far as making plays down the field for Justin Herbert. Still, Johnston is a good receiver prospect who is a monster after the catch and profiles as a nice replacement for Keenan Allen in the long term. Grade: B-

22. Baltimore Ravens: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College — Ravens doing Ravens things again. On the same day they signed Lamar Jackson to a record-setting contract, they gave him another receiver to throw to in Boston College's Zay Flowers. Flowers is explosive, can dominate down the field and has a strong feel as a ball carrier. This is a huge asset to the Ravens' receivers room. Grade: A+

23. Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Addison, WR, USC — Addison is the ideal No. 2 wide receiver prospect, and that's exactly what he's going to be in the NFL playing next to Justin Jefferson. In an offense that projects to throw the ball a lot, especially if the Vikings trade Dalvin Cook, Addison can be a star. Grade: B+

24. New York Giants (from Jacksonville Jaguars): Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland — Banks is the perfect type of cornerback for Wink Martindale's scheme. He can strap up in man coverage, which is essential for the blitz-happy defensive coordinator. Banks isn't a perfect fit for every team, but he certainly is for this one. Grade: A-

25. Buffalo Bills (from Jacksonville Jaguars via New York Giants): Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah — This one feels like a weird pick for Buffalo. Kincaid should play a similar role to Dawson Knox, who is still locked in on the Bills' roster for at least the next two seasons. Perhaps they have a different idea in mind for how this duo will play together, but right now it looks crowded. Kincaid is a stud, at least. It's not a reach in terms of talent. Grade: C

26. Dallas Cowboys: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan — Smith isn't the most dynamic defensive tackle, but he fills a big need for the Cowboys with a tough run stuffer in the middle of their defense. Smith has a little pass rush ability, but his main role will be shutting down the run. Grade: B

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Buffalo Bills): Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma — With Cam Robinson reportedly on the brink of suspension, the Jaguars needed a stud tackle to protect Trevor Lawrence and be a long-term starter. Harrison is a strong replacement for Jawaan Taylor and has athleticism to grow into a dominant player. Grade: A

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson — You can never have too many pass rushers, and now the Bengals have an athletic monster to play across from Trey Hendrickson for the long term. Murphy is an NFL-ready run defender who has the athleticism to be a strong No. 2 edge rusher. Grade: B

29. New Orleans Saints (from San Francisco 49ers): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson — Bresee should pan out to be a quality starter, but it's fair to wonder if the Saints could have picked a more explosive option here at defensive tackle. Still, he'll add nice depth to their defensive line rotation at the very worst. Grade: C

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia — Smith is on the smaller size as far as edge rushers go, but it's hard to find guys with legitimate 4.3 speed at pass rusher. Smith, Haason Reddick, Jalen Carter, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Jordan Davis? Good luck blocking that. Grade: A-

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State — The Chiefs are going to need to be patient with Anudike-Uzomah, but he has the upside to turn into the impact edge rusher they want. Anudike-Uzomah is a better fit for an NFL defense than the part-time interior role he played at Kansas State. Playing next to Chris Jones and George Karlaftis should certainly help accelerate his learning curve. Grade: B