The 2023 NFL Draft is over, and our scouts singled out the picks they thought were a cut above the rest. The picks were the only selections receiving a draft grade of “A” or better.
Best Day 1 Picks
Atlanta Falcons – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (No. 8)
The Atlanta Falcons may get criticized for taking a running back this early, but Bijan Robinson (scouting report) may have been the only true clean blue-chip prospect in this draft. He was the No. 1 player on our big board and is one of the best running back prospects of this generation. He is a blend of smooth elusiveness and power. He is capable of being a difference-maker in the passing game, and he already is functional as a pass protector, which is usually one of the biggest impediments to running backs getting on the field early. On top of that, he has a clean injury history and top-notch personal and football character.
Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (No. 9)
Jalen Carter (scouting report) is the most talented defensive player in this draft. He is dominant and disruptive, a true game-plan wrecker. If he plays up to his potential, he is the type of player who keeps opposing coaches and offensive linemen up at night. His fall was predictable given his off-field concerns and poor pro day performance, but if there was a team in a position to take a gamble on his elite talent, it was the Philadelphia Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (No. 14)
The Pittsburgh Steelers moved up to No. 14 and landed the top tackle on our draft board. The Steelers needed to address their tackle spot. Broderick Jones (scouting report) is a little unpolished, but he has outstanding athleticism and plays with a nasty streak. He should be a great fit.
New England Patriots – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (No. 17)
The New England Patriots traded back, accumulated an extra pick, and to their surprise, Christian Gonzalez (scouting report) was still on the board at No. 17. He was the No. 1 corner on our board. He has top-end size, length and athleticism. He is explosive and silky smooth. His main drawback, while he has the size, is he wasn’t always dominant at the catch point.
Seattle Seahawks – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (No. 20)
One would say it’s easy to nail the draft when you have two first-round picks, and then you see how the Lions executed this year’s draft. Seattle did much better for itself. The Seahawks nabbed a plug-and-play nickel corner with attitude, and then they added Jaxon Smith-Njigba (scouting report). He will complement DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to perfection, providing Geno Smith with a middle-of-the-field separator and chain mover.
Los Angeles Chargers – Quentin Johnston, WR, Ohio State (No. 21)
The Los Angeles Chargers needed to add speed on offense, and Quentin Johnston (scouting report) plays even faster than his timed speed (4.49 40-yard dash at TCU’s Pro Day). He has been a polarizing prospect throughout the process, but he is incredibly explosive and is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has some head-scratching plays but even more that make you say “wow.” The Chargers get the top receiver on our board. They are adding size to an already big room and a rare prospect with a high ceiling.
Minnesota Vikings – Jordan Addison, WR, USC (No. 23)
Jordan Addison (scouting report) is the purest route runner in this class. He plays fast and has good quickness to separate off the line of scrimmage. The former Biletnikoff winner will get to line up opposite Justin Jefferson and see single coverage looks the majority of the time. He can play inside and outside. He can run past you on the deep ball as well as grind out tough yards underneath.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (No. 27)
Anton Harrison (scouting report) is the last left tackle with a first-round grade left on our board. With the news of Cam Robinson’s suspension dropping just hours before the draft, this quickly became a need for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Harrison should plug in and start immediately. He has prototype size, and athletic feet and plays physically with the ability to move guys in the run game. This is great value for the Jaguars to get a potential franchise left tackle this late in the first round while adding two more picks in the process by moving down from No. 24 to No. 27.
Philadelphia Eagles – Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (No. 30)
Didn’t we already say the rich keep getting richer? Give Howie Roseman the Executive of the Year Award again. The Eagles already selected the most dominant defensive prospect in this year’s class, and now they land perhaps the most explosive defensive player in the draft in Nolan Smith (scouting report). Smith may be undersized as a true edge player, but he plays extremely strong, with great leverage and instincts. He also has the versatility to play off the ball and over the tight end in their defense. This is a home run pick for Philadelphia.
Best Day 2 Picks
Tennessee Titans – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (No. 33)
The Tennessee Titans needed a quarterback, and they landed what they hope is their signal-caller of the future. Kentucky’s Will Levis (scouting report) had to wait through the entire first round, but he didn’t have to wait long in Round 2. Levis has the size, arm strength, toughness and mobility to fit in this offense. Levis played in a pro system in college and should have a short learning curve in Year 1.
Las Vegas Raiders – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (No. 35)
The Las Vegas Raiders pick one of the most talented tight ends in this draft in Michael Mayer (scouting report). Mayer is an all-around tight end who will get movement in the run game and has some mismatch qualities as a pass catcher. He is a tough player for linebackers to defend at the sticks.
Arizona Cardinals – BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU (No. 41)
BJ Ojulari (scouting report) is a polished rusher, who can use his hands and always seems to have a rush plan. Ojulari is an explosive athlete who fits what the Cardinals need on defense and should be a contributor from Day 1 in the desert. He is athletic enough to drop in coverage and cover a tight end.
New York Jets – Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin (No. 43)
Even with the signing of Connor McGovern, the New York Jets still felt like they needed to address the center position. Joe Tippmann (scouting report) is tall for a center at 6-foot-6, but he is a good bender who plays on his feet. He is smart and will be able to lead the Jets’ offensive line.
Detroit Lions – Brian Branch, DB, Alabama (No. 45)
Brian Branch (scouting report) is a talented player who can do a variety of different things on the field for the Lions. He is instinctive and versatile, showing the ability to line up at safety and over the slot. He did not have great testing numbers, he is a good football player.
This is a good spot for Hendon Hooker (scouting report) and a value pick for Detroit. They now have insurance behind Jared Goff, and Hooker has time to fully recover from his knee injury before being pressed into action. Hooker has maturity, toughness and arm strength.
Arizona Cardinals – Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse (No. 72)
Garrett Williams (scouting report) was one of our favorite players on tape this season. If not for his October injury, he may have been a first-round player. He is one of the most physical and sure tacklers in this secondary class. He is instinctive and aggressive. He has just average size and lacks top-tier recovery speed.
New York Giants – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (No. 73)
Jalin Hyatt (scouting report) is perhaps the most explosive wide receiver in the draft. He hits top speed quickly and will give the Giants a downfield threat to stretch the defense. He is not just an athlete, he is polished and understands how to run routes and set up defenders.
Cleveland Browns – Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (No. 74)
With the Cleveland Browns’ first pick, they selected wide receiver Cedric Tillman (scouting report). Tillman is a big, long outside receiver who runs good routes for his size and can go up and snatch the ball out of the air. Tillman does not have big-time explosiveness, but he should be a solid player in the NFL.
Los Angeles Rams – Byron Young, Edge, Tennessee (No. 77)
The Rams select an explosive pass rusher with outstanding burst. Byron Young (scouting report) hits top speed quickly and can really close in the open field. He needs to improve his strength and technique in the run game, but what he will bring to the Rams can’t be taught.
Indianapolis Colts – Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina (No. 79)
Josh Downs (scouting report) is an explosive wideout who will be even faster on the quick Indy turf. Downs does not have ideal size, but he has great burst and does not have to build his speed. The Colts certainly became much faster and more explosive in this draft.
Best Day 3 Picks
Philadelphia Eagles – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (No. 105)
As the draft process went along, Ringo was dinged by our scouts for some lower-body tightness that was consistent in his game. However, you can’t teach his size and straight-line speed. He is a disciplined and assignment-sound player. The Eagles continue to own this draft.
Cleveland Browns – Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State (No. 111)
This is an excellent pick by the Browns. Jones is a huge man with length who can move people off the line of scrimmage. For his size, Jones moves well and will bring depth to this unit.
New York Jets – Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh (No. 120)
Carter Warren is a player who has starter potential as an offensive tackle for the Jets. Warren has good length and overall movement skills to produce in the pass-and-run game. He was a solid producer who should translate as an NFL player.
Chicago Bears – Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati (No. 133)
Tyler Scott is an extremely explosive player who plays faster than his 40 time (4.44 at the combine). He can separate from defenders consistently, but he needs to clean up his hands because he will have some concentration drops. His burst can’t be taught.
Tennessee Titans – Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati (No. 147)
Whyle is a tall, athletic tight end who aligns throughout the formation. He is a reliable receiving option who provides solid in-line blocking and toughness. He has stiffness in his hips which shows in his average change of direction skills. The Titans land a reliable option and find great value in the fifth round. Whyle could be a starter at some point in the future.
Chicago Bears – Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon (No. 148)
The Bears add a hard hitter on defense as Sewell is a powerful LB whose size and strength allow him to be a run stuffer.
Houston Texans – Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama (No. 167)
DeMeco Ryan gets an athletic LB in To’oTo’o and adds another piece to the Houston defense. To’oTo’o is tough and assignment sound.
Philadelphia Eagles – Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (No. 188)
This is an excellent value pick by the Eagles. McKee is a tall pocket passer with good arm strength and accuracy. He’s not a top-level athlete but is able to move in the pocket and get out of trouble. He’s different than Jalen Hurts but is a good player to work with and develop.
New Orleans Saints – AT Perry, WR, Wake Forest (No. 195)
Perry is a good-sized wideout for the Saints who can bully smaller defenders down the field. He does not have elite top-end speed but is a good route runner who will use his big frame to be a friendly target.
Cincinnati Bengals – Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton (No. 206)
Iosivas is a good-sized athlete with good straight-line speed. He has some tightness in his hips, which results in average lateral quickness. He is a big-play threat on the outside who can outrun defenders. He was an NCAA Heptathlon Champion.