NFL Draft 2023: Top 50 prospect rankings, from franchise cornerstones on down

What fun is NFL Draft season if the people who provide content don’t put their reputation on the line every once in a while? Mock drafts are fun, but at the end of the day they’re just a crapshoot guess at what teams might do, which is almost impossible to ascertain up until a few days before the draft. Rankings and player grades are truly what stand the test of time. Sweet, sweet draft rankings.

These rankings, made by the almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing Charles McDonald, are a bit different than what you might see around the internet. The individual player rankings don’t matter as much as the tiers that these players reside in. Since this is only a top 50, the players in these categories are all quality players who project to be selected within the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.

There are three overarching categories here:

Franchise cornerstone talents speak for themselves. They are the plug-and-play type of talents that project to reach Pro Bowl and All-Pro status quicker than others in the draft class. These are high-floor, high-upside players who appear to be safe bets this year.

After that are the players who project to be early starters with attainable Pro Bowl upside. These guys are all good players in their own right, but not quite the level of prospect who can be considered at the very top of the draft. High expectations rest on these players' shoulders, but they have the talent or physical profile to be productive for the long term.

The final category is filled with players who projected to be core rotational players, solid starters or development prospects. Rotational players getting drafted this high might sound a bit crazy to some fans, but players who can make an impact in subpackages and certain situational aspects of the game are still incredibly valuable.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter still sits at No. 1 overall on the top 50, even in light of his poor pro day performance. Carter has had a rough draft season with a misdemeanor arrest (and resulting plea deal) and being unable to finish his pro day. He is still one of the most dominant defensive tackles to enter the draft in quite some time. Just remember, on the Georgia defense in 2021 that featured five first-round draft picks, Carter was still thought of as the best prospect on that defense. The talent is still there in a big way.

Tier 1: Franchise cornerstone

1. Georgia DL Jalen Carter (Junior, 6-3, 314 lbs)

2. Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Junior, 6-3 1/2, 253 lbs)

3. Tennessee OL Darnell Wright (Senior, 6-5, 333 lbs)

4. Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Junior, 6-6, 313 lbs)

5. Texas RB Bijan Robinson (Junior, 5-11, 215 lbs)

6. Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez (Junior, 6-1, 197 lbs)

Georgia's Jalen Carter is the No. 1 prospect in this NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Georgia's Jalen Carter is the No. 1 prospect in this NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Tier 2: Early starter/attainable Pro Bowl upside

7. Alabama QB Bryce Young (Junior, 5-10, 204 lbs)

8. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud (R-Sophomore, 6-3, 214 lbs)

9. Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski (Junior, 6-4, 313 lbs)

10. Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson (R-Senior, 6-6, 271 lbs)

11. Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer (Junior, 6-4 1/2, 249 lbs)

12. TCU WR Quentin Johnston (Junior, 6-3, 208 lbs)

13. Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz (R-Senior, 6-3 1/2, 301 lbs)

14. Florida QB Anthony Richardson (R-Sophomore, 6-4, 244 lbs)

15. Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Junior, 6-1, 196 lbs)

16. Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. (R-Junior, 6-2 1/2, 193 lbs)

17. Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness (R-Sophomore, 6-5, 272 lbs)

18. Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison (Junior, 6-4, 315 lbs)

19. Georgia OT Broderick Jones (R-Sophomore, 6-5, 311 lbs)

20. Georgia TE Darnell Washington (Junior, 6-7, 264 lbs)

21. Florida G O'Cyrus Torrence (Senior, 6-5, 330 lbs)

22. Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith (Senior, 6-2, 238 lbs)

23. Georgia CB Kelee Ringo (R-Sophomore, 6-2, 207 lbs)

24. Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon (Senior, 5-11 1/2, 181 lbs)

25. Boston College WR Zay Flowers (Senior, 5-9, 182 lbs)

26. USC WR Jordan Addison (Junior, 5-11, 173 lbs)

27. Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs (Junior, 5-9, 199 lbs)

28. Alabama CB/S Brian Branch (Junior, 6-0, 190 lbs)

29. TCU C Steve Avila (R-Senior, 6-3 1/2, 332 lbs)

Tier 3: Solid starter/rotational player/realistic developmental project

30. Kentucky QB Will Levis (Senior, 6-4, 229 lbs)

31. Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave (Senior, 6-6, 253 lbs)

32. Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy (Junior, 6-5, 268 lbs)

33. Michigan DL Mazi Smith (R-Junior, 6-3, 323 lbs)

34. Notre Dame DL Isaiah Foskey (R-Junior, 6-5, 264 lbs)

35. Ohio State OT Dawand Jones (Senior, 6-8, 374 lbs)

36. Arkansas LB Drew Sanders (Junior, 6-4, 235 lbs)

37. Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey (R-Junior, 6-1, 281 lbs)

38. Utah TE Dalton Kincaid (Senior, 6-4, 246 lbs)

39. Clemson DT Bryan Bresee (R-Sophomore, 6-5 1/2, 298 lbs)

40. South Carolina CB Cam Smith (R-Junior, 6-1, 180 lbs)

41. Georgia S Christopher Smith (Senior, 5-11, 192 lbs)

42. Alabama S Jordan Battle (Senior, 6-1, 209 lbs)

43. Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt (Junior, 6-0, 176 lbs)

44. LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari (Junior, 6-2, 248 lbs)

45. Texas A&M RB Devon Achane (Junior, 5-8 1/2, 188 lbs)

46. UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet (Senior, 6-0, 214 lbs)

47. Iowa LB Jack Campbell (Senior, 6-5, 249 lbs)

48. Ohio State IOL Luke Wypler (R-Sophomore, 6-3, 303 lbs)

49. Baylor DL Siaki Ika (Senior, 6-3, 335 lbs)

50. Northwestern DL Adetomiwa Adebawore (Senior, 6-2, 282 lbs)