It was an exciting three days at the 2023 NFL draft, and analysts Jordan Reid and Matt Miller have had some time now to digest the 259 selections. So we asked them to break down the class in 22 categories, from best (and worst) picks to the top in-draft trades.
Who were the best value selections in each of the seven rounds? Which teams dominated? Which pick surprised the most? Reid and Miller tackle it all. Plus, they pick out perfect fits, Rookie of the Year predictions, standout classes, intriguing developmental prospects, undrafted free agents to know and ideal quarterback landing spots. Let’s get to it, with 22 post-draft superlatives.
Jump to a superlative:
Best values in each round
Surprises | Best team classes
Rookie of the Year picks
Best trades | Five-year predictions
What was your favorite pick overall?
Reid: C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans (No. 2). There was a lot of buzz leading up to the draft about the Texans selecting a defensive player with the No. 2 pick, but I couldn’t wrap my head around passing on a quarterback. Instead, they selected their franchise quarterback out of Ohio State (while also still trading up for Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr.). Stroud provides Houston with a potential answer under center, something it has struggled to find since trading Deshaun Watson.
Miller: Hendon Hooker, QB, Detroit Lions (No. 68). The Lions have a real opening for a quarterback of the future behind Jared Goff, and Hooker will have time to heal from his torn ACL and learn behind Goff before any expectations are placed on him. The Tennessee product came at good value in Round 3.
Who is the guaranteed future NFL star of the class?
Miller: Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). It might be cheating to pick the most NFL-ready player in the class at one position where we see a lot of rookie production, but Robinson is uniquely suited to hit the ground running in Arthur Smith’s offense thanks to his power, vision and receiving ability. He showcased those traits regularly while rushing for 1,580 yards last season at Texas.
Reid: Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). I agree, Matt. It’s hard to find a better answer than Robinson, who is a perfect fit with the Falcons. This offense will use him both as a runner and in the passing game, and his impact will be felt right away. We saw what Tyler Allgeier was able to do in that system last year, and Robinson is significantly more talented than the 2022 fifth-round pick.
What was the best value pick in Round 1?
Reid: Jalen Carter, DT, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 9). Getting arguably the best player in the draft at that spot was incredible value for the Eagles. They have an identity of building through the trenches, and they needed a lot of help along the interior going into the draft. Georgia’s Carter provides them with a plug-and-play 3-technique.
Miller: Nolan Smith, OLB, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 30). Jordan, I’m going to stay with you on the Eagles but go with Smith. He was my No. 14 overall player, and the Philadelphia Bulldogs, err Eagles, stole him near the end of the first round. A player often compared to Haason Reddick will now team up with him.
What was the best value pick in Round 2?
Miller: Michael Mayer, TE, Las Vegas Raiders (No. 35). Mayer was my top tight end in this class, and the Raiders were able to trade up to select the Notre Dame pass-catcher early in Round 2. A legitimate top-20 prospect, Mayer will be a Day 1 starter in Las Vegas.
Reid: O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Buffalo Bills (No. 59). The Bills got my top-ranked interior offensive lineman outside of the top 50. There was buzz that Florida’s Torrence could go as high as No. 24 to the Jaguars, so this is really good value for Buffalo. Torrence could see significant snaps early as he looks to push Ryan Bates for the starting right guard spot.
What was the best value pick in Round 3?
Reid: Trenton Simpson, ILB, Baltimore Ravens (No. 86). The Ravens have shown a pattern of valuing toolsy linebackers, acquiring Roquan Smith in a midseason trade and drafting Patrick Queen in 2020. Simpson, who starred on Clemson’s defense, figures to be next in line. He can play multiple positions, which is key in this Baltimore defense.
Miller: Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants (No. 73). Outside of Detroit’s Hooker pick (which I mentioned earlier), I really liked the Hyatt pick for the Giants in Round 3. The Tennessee wideout was a top-30 player on my board and lands in an ideal situation with Mike Kafka and Brian Daboll running the offense. They love vertical speed players.
What was the best value pick in Round 4?
Miller: Kelee Ringo, CB, Philadelphia Eagles (No. 105). Of course, Ringo landed with the Eagles, who are becoming Georgia North. Once considered a first-round prospect, Ringo has the size and speed traits to develop into a starting-level cornerback.
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Reid: Adetomiwa Adebawore, DE, Indianapolis Colts (No. 110). I’m shocked Northwestern’s Adebawore fell to the fourth round. After he ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at 282 pounds at the combine, I thought he might end up a late-Round 1 pick. But some scouts questioned exactly where he would play in the pros, and the Colts benefited from a slide. Adebawore could receive early playing time.
What was the best value pick in Round 5?
Reid: Antonio Johnson, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 160). The Jaguars needed help in the secondary, and Johnson, my second-ranked safety, played multiple roles during his time at Texas A&M. His best projection is as a strong safety at the next level, but Jacksonville is looking for someone who can play the nickel role. The Jags want to keep Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell at outside corner, and Johnson could be the team’s answer over the slot. He brings even more young talent to an already intriguing group.
Miller: Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 163). The Bengals will have hard decisions to make in the near future about running back Joe Mixon. And Brown, who ran for more than 1,600 yards at Illinois last year, has a similar hard-charging, downhill running style that will endear him to the offensive staff.
What was the best value pick in Round 6?
Miller: Dee Winters, ILB, San Francisco 49ers (No. 216). Winters is an undersized linebacker from TCU who lives around the football. He lands in a scheme where smaller ‘backers like Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair have found success playing in space.
Reid: Luke Wypler, C, Cleveland Browns (No. 190). Wypler is active and quick-footed, and he can win in many ways. It was a surprise to see him still available in the sixth round. Wypler fits the Browns’ zone-blocking scheme really well, which has some variations of the Ohio State offense. That should help his transition.
What was the best value pick in Round 7?
Reid: Andrew Vorhees, G, Baltimore Ravens (No. 229). The Ravens are notorious for taking flyers on players who have suffered recent injuries — even if they can’t contribute as rookies, they might return to their pre-injury form in the following season. Baltimore did it a year ago with defensive end David Ojabo, and did it again this year with Vorhees. After tearing his right ACL at the combine, he’s likely to miss all of next season, but the former USC lineman could absolutely compete for a roster spot in 2024.
Miller: Cory Trice, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 241). Purdue’s Trice, who fell because of medical concerns, was a top-100 player on my final rankings. His length and physicality at the line of scrimmage are perfect for Pittsburgh, where there are two open starting cornerback jobs.
What is your favorite prospect-to-team fit?
Miller: John Michael Schmitz, C, New York Giants (No. 57). The middle of the line needed an upgrade, and Minnesota’s Schmitz is the perfect fit given his mobility and accuracy blocking in space and on the move. He’ll be a plug-and-play upgrade with Creed Humphrey-like early-impact potential.
Reid: Deonte Banks, CB, New York Giants (No. 24). It shouldn’t be surprising to see defensive coordinator Wink Martindale give GM Joe Schoen a big hug during ESPN’s live telecast of this pick; Banks is the perfect cornerback for his man-to-man scheme. He’s big and aggressive but also has the poise to remain hip-to-hip throughout routes with receivers. The Maryland product landed in a scheme that’s tailor-made for his skill set.
Which pick surprised you the most?
Reid: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Seattle Seahawks (No. 5). Witherspoon is a terrific player out of Illinois, and I wasn’t surprised he was picked this early. I was surprised mainly because the selection breaks the mold of what Seattle normally does early in the draft. In fact, Witherspoon is the first cornerback the team has selected in the first round since 2006 (Kelly Jennings). It shows just how much the Seahawks liked Witherspoon’s game, even if he’s far from the toolsy-but-raw corner they typically target.
Miller: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions (No. 12). Trading back six selections to take Gibbs was the surprise of Day 1 — especially after the Lions passed on Robinson at No. 6 overall. Gibbs had an impact in the run and pass game at Alabama, and he is a very good player, but he isn’t someone I saw going in the top dozen selections.
What was the best QB landing spot?
Miller: Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (No. 1). I don’t see a bad quarterback landing spot among the top five passers drafted, but Alabama’s Young goes to the best situation given the coaches on staff in Carolina. The supporting cast could be better — Young will have veterans Adam Thielen and DJ Chark, as well as rookie Jonathan Mingo — but no one is better set up from a coaching standpoint than Young, with head coach Frank Reich, quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and senior assistant Jim Caldwell all helping his adjustment to the pro game.
Reid: Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (No. 4). It was important for the former Florida signal-caller to go to a team with an experienced playcaller and quarterback developer. Shane Steichen is perfect for him in that regard. Plus, Richardson is surrounded by many young playmakers on the Colts’ offense. Indy still needs to improve its offensive line, but Richardson’s mobility will help as it continues to retool that unit.
Which team produced your favorite class?
Reid: Indianapolis Colts. They needed to come out of this draft class with a quarterback of the future, and they did that with Anthony Richardson. But they also had holes at cornerback and along both lines and quickly tackled those needs with guys like Julius Brents (Kansas State), Darius Rush (South Carolina), Blake Freeland (BYU) and Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern). I like the value, scheme fit and ceiling that these Day 2 and Day 3 prospects bring.
Miller: Philadelphia Eagles. There’s something to drafting starters from arguably the greatest college defense of the past 20 years, and the Eagles seem to agree. Philly landed three Georgia players, Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith and Kelee Ringo, and it got strong value on all three. But the Eagles landed Alabama’s Tyler Steen and Illinois’ Sydney Brown later in the draft than their player rankings indicated they should go.
Which team produced your least favorite class?
Miller: Washington Commanders. Not selecting a quarterback or offensive tackle in the entire draft was a bold strategy for a team with question marks at both spots. The Commanders are truly all-in on Sam Howell and veteran Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and might have the shakiest offensive line in the entire NFL after Arizona shored up its unit with Paris Johnson Jr. in Round 1.
Reid: San Francisco 49ers. The franchise already has a loaded roster, but it could have added more depth at key positions over the course of the draft. Instead, the 49ers took players much earlier than I thought they would be selected. This roster seems set for another deep playoff run, but the Niners missed an opportunity to take good prospects still on the board at premium spots when they finally got on the clock late on Day 2.
Make your early call for Offensive Rookie of the Year
Reid: Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). He is the easy selection here. Atlanta has a young QB in Desmond Ridder, and it will want to give him as much help as possible, so I expect it to again be heavily reliant on running the football. Coach Arthur Smith envisions Robinson as his version of Derrick Henry, and I think Robinson will have plenty of highlight moments during his rookie season.
Miller: Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts (No. 4). Robinson is a great selection, but for the sake of variety, I’ll mention Richardson in a surprise move. He should play early in Shane Steichen’s offense and has the dual-threat ability to wrack up huge stats as a passer and runner to get him some hardware after the 2023 season.
Make your early call for Defensive Rookie of the Year
Miller: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Seattle Seahawks (No. 5). The Seattle secondary is loaded with talent, and opposing quarterbacks will have to throw at someone. It stands to reason they’ll target the rookie cornerback, at least early in the year. Witherspoon can have a Sauce Gardner-type rookie season and follow him as the winner of the DPOY award.
Reid: Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Houston Texans (No. 3). This team lacks talent off the edge, and Anderson is expected to play the Nick Bosa role in DeMeco Ryans’ defense. His explosiveness, first-step burst and finishing ability give him a chance to be a double-digit sack player early in his career, especially with the youth under center in the AFC South.
Predict the number of rookie QBs who will be starting by midseason
Reid: Three. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson will all be Week 1 starters, and that will remain throughout the season. An argument could be made for Kentucky product Will Levis to eventually take over for Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee, but I ultimately think the veteran will play just good enough to keep Levis in the understudy role throughout the 2023 season.
Miller: Four. I think Levis could join the first three quarterbacks drafted because Tannehill has a recent injury history. He was limited to 12 games last season and is turning 35 years old. The Titans aren’t completely leaning in on the rebuild just yet, but with Tannehill under contract for only the upcoming season, they should see what Levis can do this year.
Predict one rookie who will win fantasy managers their leagues
Miller: Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). Robinson should project for more than 1,200 rushing yards, especially because Tyler Allgeier cleared 1,000 last year. And Robinson will add more than the 16 receptions the Falcons’ lead back had in 2022.
Reid: Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings (No. 23). Robinson is the logical choice, but how about Addison? He steps into a clear No. 2 role alongside Justin Jefferson, and the Vikings need someone to replace the targets Adam Thielen received a year ago. We know coach Kevin O’Connell will use his receivers in a variety of different formational alignments, and I think Addison is in for a very productive rookie campaign.
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Name one developmental/project pick to watch
Reid: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Tennessee Titans (No. 186). Widely viewed as a possible Day 2 selection heading into the draft process, Duncan landed with the Titans in the sixth round. He primarily played left tackle but is also capable of playing guard. So with Peter Skoronski in the mix, the former Maryland blocker could transition inside to guard or serve as a backup to newly signed Andre Dillard at left tackle. He just needs to improve his strength and consistency in pass protection.
Miller: Jaren Hall, QB, Minnesota Vikings (No. 164). Hall, a fifth-round selection from BYU, has the type of field vision, instincts, arm strength and mobility to make moves in Minnesota under coach Kevin O’Connell. Kirk Cousins has one year left on his deal, and there is no clear-cut replacement on the roster. Hall has a chance to become the next Cousins as a late-rounder who turned into a reliable starter. But he needs to get faster at processing, which comes through playing more and learning behind someone with Cousins’ experience.
Pick one undrafted free agent who will make the team
Miller: Caleb Murphy, OLB, Tennessee Titans. Coach Mike Vrabel is one of the best developers of UDFA talent in the NFL, and Murphy fits his mold. The 6-foot-3, 254-pound edge rusher had 40 sacks and 60.5 tackles for loss the past two seasons at Ferris State and has a motor that runs red hot.
Reid: Andre Carter II, OLB, Minnesota Vikings. Lacking depth behind Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport (and with Za’Darius Smith‘s future with the team in question), the Vikings need pass-rushers. The one area where Carter brings value right away is generating pressure off of the edge. He steps into a situation where he’s likely a developmental project, but his pass-rush prowess could be used in spots early in his career. He is coming off a down year at Army but had 15.5 sacks in 2021.
What was your favorite in-draft trade?
Reid: The Arizona Cardinals swapping picks with the Texans in the first round was the exact type of trade that a rebuilding team should prioritize. They gained an extra second-round pick as well as Houston’s first- and third-rounder in 2024. In fact, Arizona is already scheduled to have 10 picks next year and could end up with more via compensatory picks.
Miller: The Pittsburgh Steelers expertly jumping the Jets in a deal with the Patriots to select the last starter-graded left tackle (Broderick Jones) on the board was savvy. Everyone in the football world knew the Jets would target a left tackle if one was available at No. 15, and the Steelers swooped in. It cost them only an additional fourth-rounder.
Make one bold prediction about this class for five years from now.
Miller: Anthony Richardson and the Colts will be on top of the AFC South. He has immense talent as a passer and runner, and his fit in Shane Steichen’s offensive system will reignite football in Indianapolis. Even with Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, Indy could take over this division. Richardson’s raw ability is unlike anything we’ve seen in football. So in five years, Richardson will be a top-tier starting QB, and the Colts will be Super Bowl contenders.
Reid: The 2023 draft will end up being considered the starting point of the Cardinals’ turnaround under GM Monti Ossenfort. Trading out of the No. 3 pick provided them the opportunity to potentially have two top-five picks in 2024. Could USC QB Caleb Williams and/or Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. be in play? And I expect newly drafted offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) to quickly become a core part of the Cardinals’ offense and eventually help the franchise move to the front of the NFC West.