Every NFL team has now played eight games. While that’s technically not quite halfway through the 17-game schedule, it’s close enough to have a solid initial impression on the rookie class. Mid-term grade time!
It’s been an interesting ride for the first-rounders in the 2023 NFL draft through Week 9. Some have excelled, while others have struggled to transition from the college game for a variety of reasons.
The grade here is based on the performance of the player so far in the given circumstances, not the merit of the draft selection.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Panthers
Young has struggled behind a bottom-caliber offensive line, throwing eight TDs and seven INTs — including two pick-sixes in Week 9. He ranks dead last in yards per pass attempt.
2. C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans
Stroud is coming off the greatest game ever by a rookie quarterback. He’s led the Texans into playoff contention and ranks in the top-5 overall in QB Rating.
3. Will Anderson, EDGE, Texans
Anderson has quietly been very good a generating pressure for the Texans. The modest sack (2) and TFL totals (3) don’t reflect how well he’s played overall.
4. Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts
5. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Seahawks
6. Paris Johnson, OT, Cardinals
Johnson has started every game at right tackle for the Cardinals. He has struggled with penalties (8 in as many games, 4 declined) and run blocking, while Johnson’s pass protection has ebbed and flowed.
7. Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Raiders
It’s been a slow start for Wilson, who missed most of the offseason recovering from a foot injury. Other than one game against Chicago and one snap against the Giants in Week 9, you’d be hard-pressed to know Wilson is on the field — good or bad. That’s not good for a top-10 pick.
8. Bijan Robinson, RB, Falcons
Robinson has looked impressive as both a runner (5.0 YPC) and receiver (28 catches). The limited usage in the Falcons’ curious offense has held him back more than anything Robinson lacks in talent and NFL readiness.
9. Jalen Carter, DT, Eagles
Carter burst out of the rookie gate with a fantastic first month. He’s come back to Earth since (more penalties than tackles in the last three weeks) but remains an impactful piece on the Eagles’ strong front.
10. Darnell Wright, OT, Bears
Wright has started every game at right tackle and has looked very much like a rookie against NFL speed. His run blocking is progressing pretty well, a good sign for the Bears.
11. Peter Skoronski, OG, Titans
An appendectomy cost Skoronski a couple of games, which has slowed his transition from college left tackle to NFL left guard. His pass protection has been pretty good, but the run blocking lags — as you might expect for a guard making a position change.
12. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Lions
Gibbs has split the Lions’ RB duties with David Montgomery, though it’s been rare when both are healthy. In the three games Montgomery has been out, Gibbs leads the league in yards from scrimmage. Pass protection woes drop Gibbs a half-grade.
13. Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Packers
The Packers knew he was a project when they drafted him, and Van Ness is a work in progress. Since a very nice Week 1 against Chicago, the Iowa product has done almost nothing as a pass rusher while playing about 35 percent of the snaps. Looks like a good tackler already.
14. Broderick Jones, OT, Steelers
Jones has started two games at tackle, one left and one right, and played most of one more at LT in relief. The pass protection in the two starts has looked good. Promising career kickoff for Jones, who should start from here on out.
15. Will McDonald, EDGE, Jets
The pass-rush specialist plays about 10 snaps a game and made his first impact on the stat sheet in New York’s Week 9 loss. He’s not getting much playing time because the Jets pass rush is good, not because he’s been bad.
16. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Commanders
Forbes was a starter for the first two games but played his way into reserve duty, thanks to some sloppy tackling and a lack of confidence in coverage. Two dropped interceptions have not helped Forbes, a playmaker extraordinaire at Mississippi State.
17. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Patriots
Gonzalez looked great in the first two weeks in games against very dynamic receiving corps (PHI and MIA). An injury early in Week 4 ended a promising rookie campaign; Gonzalez looks like a long-term starter already.
18. Jack Campbell, LB, Lions
19. Calijah Kancey, DT, Buccaneers
Kancey got off to a slow start, missing three of the Bucs’ first four games. He’s been effective as a pass rusher but a liability in run defense, though he showed progress in the Week 9 loss to the Texans.
20. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seahawks
Smith-Njigba has had a weird season. The Seahawks use him in the slot on shorter routes than expected, and he’s put four drops on the ground. Ineffective blocking and struggles with the strength of the pro game have dogged Smith-Njigba, though he’s starting to play better recently.
21. Quentin Johnston, WR, Chargers
Johnston has not been given a lot to do in the Chargers passing game. He’s had more than two catches just once, and only two of his 14 receptions have topped 15 yards. He’s not really shown the physicality that made Johnston special at TCU, either.
22. Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens
Flowers has impressed as a high-volume target from both outside and in the slot. The route-running and quickness off the line have looked great, and Flowers gives effort as a blocker. Some weird drops and being a little too easy to tackle after the catch hurt his grade a bit.
23. Jordan Addison, WR, Vikings
It’s great to see a rookie step up when an established star goes down, and that’s what Addison has done for the Vikings. Since Justin Jefferson got hurt, Addison has played like a worthy No. 1 receiver. His seven touchdowns in nine games are hard to ignore.
24. Deonte Banks, CB, Giants
The ball skills and aggressive run defense have stood out for Banks, who sees a very high volume of passes thrown his way. Inconsistent tackling and trouble on inside releases have been issues. Banks is coming off his worst game, which always makes cumulative grades harder.
25. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Bills
Kincaid has been outstanding as a receiver, with 40 receptions on 44 targets and zero drops. Outside of a bad fumble and leading his team in penalties, Kincaid has been very good for Buffalo.
26. Mazi Smith, DT, Cowboys
It’s been a slow burn for Smith, a part-time reserve asked to play a very different style in Dallas than what he thrived at doing for Michigan in college. Two total tackles and one QB pressure in about 15 plays per game isn’t the kind of expected impact.
27. Anton Harrison, OT, Jaguars
Harrison had a rough Weeks 1-2 but has progressed nicely as the Jaguars starting right tackle. He’s looked very good as the backside tackle in the run game. Harrison’s pass protection had improved weekly until he faced the fearsome Steelers in his last outing.
28. Myles Murphy, EDGE, Bengals
Murphy has barely played as a reserve pass rusher for the Bengals. Outside of a bad missed tackle and a sack–both in the Week 4 game against the Titans–it’s been hard to know Murphy has played a single snap.
29. Bryan Bresee, DT, Saints
Bresee brings a lot of energy and activity to the Saints defensive front, though it’s not always pointed in the right direction. The pass rushing has been solid and ever-improving. If he learns to stay disciplined in the run game, Bresee is going to be a very useful player for a long time.
30. Nolan Smith, EDGE, Eagles
Smith has played just 56 snaps, the fewest of any first-rounder who has been healthy all year. The Eagles drafted him for the long-term, not rookie contributions.
31. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Chiefs
His work in the first month proved capable, but Anudike-Uzomah tailed off quickly. He’s got to learn ways to keep blockers from getting their hands on him better; since nice games in Weeks 1-3, the book is out on the rookie from Kansas State and he’s not been able to turn the page.