The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft certainly had its moments, as three quarterbacks went within the first four picks and each of the major conferences had a player selected for the first time in the common draft era (1967). Three teams traded up in the top 10 of the draft, making the first round even more exciting as talented players continued to remain on the draft board.
At the end of the night, plenty of teams were pleased with how their draft went. How will those picks translate to production on the field? Did those teams get the right value at the selection they made the pick?
Each of the 31 first-round picks have their own value, but which ones were the best in Round 1? These rankings include not just the player, but the team that player is going to along with where they were drafted in the round.
1. Jalen Carter (Eagles, DT, No. 9)
The Eagles got one of the best players in the draft, only moving up one spot to select Carter (and giving up a 2024 fourth-round pick to do so). Carter immediately starts on a defensive line with Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham. He'll be an instant impact player in Philadelphia.
2. Anthony Richardson (Colts, QB, No. 4)
Richardson certainly is a project, yet there's plenty of reason to believe the Colts are in good shape and he'll develop into a great quarterback. Shane Steichen is responsible for Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts becoming two of the top quarterbacks in the game. While it will take some time, there's good reason to believe Richardson is in a great spot.
3. Bijan Robinson (Falcons, RB, No. 8)
Does anyone remember how well the Falcons ran the ball last season? Atlanta was third in the NFL in rush yards per game (159.9) and second in rush-play percentage (55.3%). The Falcons added Robinson to an already run-heavy offense that already is excellent in run blocking. Robinson could have a massive first season in Atlanta.
4. Bryce Young (Panthers, QB, No. 1)
Young was the best quarterback in the draft -- and is paired with a head coach who knows how to develop young quarterbacks in Frank Reich. Working with Reich and Josh McCown as quarterbacks coach will do wonders for Young, who plays significantly bigger than his size (5-foot-10). Having D.J. Chark and Adam Thielen to throw to will help Young develop in Carolina, a team that can compete in the NFC South with his talent.
5. Deonte Banks (Giants, CB, No. 24)
The Giants' defense primarily focuses on the cornerback, especially since New York had the highest man coverage (41%) and blitz rate (44%) in 2022. Banks fits what Wink Martindale wants to do in coverage and will immediately start on this unit. The Giants traded up and made sure they got their cornerback, especially when all the first-round wideouts were off the board.
6. Will Anderson Jr. (Texans, EDGE, No. 3)
The Texans had just 39 sacks last season, yet DeMeco Ryans added arguably the best pass rusher in this draft class. Not only did Anderson have the most sacks, tackles for loss, pressures and quarterback hits in the FBS the last three seasons, but he is also excellent in run defense (which the Texans sorely needed as they were outrushed by 1,418 yards last season). Anderson is primed to be a wrecking ball on the Texans' revamped defense.
7. Paris Johnson (Cardinals, OT, No. 6)
The Cardinals finally listened to their quarterback and got Kyler Murray the player he wanted in Johnson, who immediately makes their offensive line better by plugging him in at one of the guard spots on Day 1. Could Johnson challenge Kelvin Beachum for the right tackle spot? Absolutely, but the left side of the offensive line is going to be excellent with Johnson next to D.J. Humphries.
8. Jason Smith-Njigba (Seahawks, WR, No. 20)
The first wide receiver taken in the draft, the Seahawks got the best wideout at No. 20. Smith-Njigba is an excellent fit in the slot -- and he'll get to play with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for the next several seasons. He should be immediately productive in Shane Waldron's offense.
9. Christian Gonzalez (Patriots, CB, No. 17)
New England should be flipping tables as Gonzalez fell to them at No. 17, especially given how well Bill Belichick has developed cornerbacks. While Gonzalez needs work in zone coverage, he's an excellent tackler and ideal for the Patriots when they put him in man coverage. Gonzalez and Jonathan Jones could be very dangerous together.
10. Devon Witherspoon (Seahawks, CB, No. 5)
Witherspoon is arguably the best cornerback in the draft, an excellent defender in man coverage. The Seahawks developed one of the best rookie corners last season and Tariq Woolen and will now pair him with another elite coverage player in Witherspoon. Witherspoon allowed the fewest yards per attempt (3.0) as the primary defender last season, making the Seahawks' secondary one of the best young units in the NFL.
11. Broderick Jones (Steelers, OT, No. 14)
The Steelers get their left tackle to block for Kenny Pickett, which they have been seeking all offseason. The raw power Jones possesses is intriguing, as he can develop into a dominant tackle in the NFL with his athleticism. Jones should fit in very well in Pittsburgh.
12. Nolan Smith (Eagles, EDGE, No. 30)
The rich get richer in Philadelphia as Smith somehow fell to 30, adding a top-15 talent to a defensive line that finished with 70 sacks last season. While Smith does need work on his pass-rushing strategy off the line, but can thrive in a Hasson Reddick-type role. He gets to learn from Reddick himself as part of a loaded edge-rushing rotation.
13. Tyree Wilson (Raiders, EDGE, No. 7)
Wilson is going to be working with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on the edge, as defensive coordinator Patrick Graham prefers to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Sure the Raiders needed secondary help, but having Wilson's athleticism is going to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. With Crosby on the other side, plenty of one-on-one matchups should be in store.
14. C.J. Stroud (Texans, QB, No. 2)
This isn't an indictment on Stroud the player, who is arguably the best pocket passer in this draft class. Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will get the most out of Stroud, but the Texans need to add more pass catchers down the line for him. Could be a rough Year 1 for Stroud.
15. Myles Murphy (Bengals, EDGE, No. 28)
The Bengals already have Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard on the edge. Why not add Murphy to the mix, especially since the key to beating the Chiefs is putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes. Murphy has the leverage to be a good edge rusher in the NFL, using his excellent burst off the line to get pressure on the quarterback. He'll fit in great in the Cincinnati rotation.
16. Darnell Wright (Bears, OT, No. 10)
While Wright is primarily a right tackle, his run-blocking ability makes him an impactful starter in the NFL come Week 1. Justin Fields will certainly have his right side protected, as Wright will be lined up next to Teven Jenkins. The Bears will still run the ball a lot with their new pass catchers, making Wright's toughness a vital part of this unit going forward.
17. Zay Flowers (Ravens, WR, No. 22)
Flowers has an excellent burst in the slot, giving Lamar Jackson a slot receiver he hasn't had since Willie Snead was catching passes from him. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashod Bateman also in the fold, Flowers will be expected to produce immediately -- but he's set up to succeed as an underneath option for Jackson.
18. Peter Skoronski (Titans, OT, No. 11)
Skoronski has all the traits to be a successful lineman in the NFL. Known for his versatility (can play guard and has the ideal size to dominate there), Skoronski can start Week 1 at guard for a Titans offensive line that needs help on the right side. This was safe pick for Tennessee, but also a much-needed one.
19. Dalton Kincaid (Bills, TE, No. 25)
Kincaid is basically a slot receiver in the early stages of his career, but there's nothing wrong with that in a Bills offense that has Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis and Khalil Shakir on the outside. Josh Allen will target Kincaid in the middle of the field as Dawson Knox will do the dirty work in the trenches. The Bills got better with this pick.
20. Bryan Bresee (Saints, DT, No. 29)
Good for the Saints for adding talent to a defensive line that lost Marcus Davenport and didn't re-sign Sheldon Rankins. Not only can Bresee play in an odd or even front, but he can plug holes in the run defense -- which will be vital since the Saints play the Falcons twice a year. Bresee will be a good player under Dennis Allen's tutelage.
21. Quentin Johnson (Chargers, WR, No. 21)
The Chargers are putting Johnson in a wide receiver group with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Johnson's big-play potential and knowledge of the game is immensely beneficial for Justin Herbert, as he'll fit right in with the explosiveness of a Kellen Moore offense.
22. Lukas Van Ness (Packers, EDGE, No. 13)
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst typically prioritizes defensive line early in the draft, so it shouldn't have been a surprise Green Bay took Van Ness over pass-catching help for Jordan Love. An ascending player, Van Ness needs work on his pass-rushing moves. He'll get to grow in a rotation with Preston Smith and Kenny Clark, but will be pressured to produce early.
23. Anton Harrison (Jaguars, OT, No. 27)
The Jaguars needed an offensive tackle with Jawaan Taylor departing in free agency and Cam Robinson expected to be suspended to start the season. Harrison immediately slides in as a starter on the offensive line, allowing just one sack on 425 pass-blocking snaps last year. He's a long-term starter -- and the Jaguars had to make sure they got a good tackle.
24. Calijah Kancey (Buccaneers, DT, No. 19)
Kancey is undersized, but there's little debate how productive he was as a three-technique tackle at Pittsburgh. With Vita Vea playing the nose, Kancey on the edge makes more sense. He'll be in the backfield often, but's it's fair to question how he holds up in the trenches.
25. Jordan Addison (Vikings, WR, No. 23)
The final of the four consecutive wide receivers to go in the first round, Addison doesn't have the size teams would covet -- yet he has breakaway speed and is an excellent route runner. Does Addison go in the slot and Justin Jefferson go on the outside? Will be interesting to see how the Vikings use him.
26. Jahmyr Gibbs (Lions, RB, No. 12)
Did the Lions panic here, thinking Gibbs wasn't going to be available for their second pick at No. 18? An explosive athlete who's an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield, Gibbs will be an excellent asset in Detroit. The Lions are also paying David Montgomery a lot of money and currently have D'Andre Swift. This certainly went against the grain.
27. Mazi Smith (Cowboys, DT, No. 26)
Smith isn't a stats nose tackle, yet he is excellent against the run and has a massive frame that will be outstanding in short-yardage defense. His power is going to disrupt the interior, but this pick was to help out DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons in the pass rush. Nothing wrong with that.
28. Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Chiefs, EDGE, No. 31)
While the pass-rushing moves and motor are there, Anudike-Uzomah needs to be quicker off the snap. Chris Jones on the interior will help, but this pick is certainly a project at No. 31 (needs to keep developing his frame). Hard to argue with a Brett Veach pick over the last two years.
29. Will McDonald IV (Jets, EDGE, No. 15)
Did the Jets really need an edge rusher here? McDonald has a slow get-up off the line and teams aren't afraid to challenge him against the run. That being said, McDonald knows how to get to the quarterback and is highly productive. Would have helped to find a way to get an offensive tackle earlier in the draft.
30. Emmanuel Forbes (Commanders, CB, No. 16)
Forbes is a turnover machine, having six of his 14 career interceptions returned for touchdown. The Commanders needed help at cornerback, and Forbes certainly isn't lacking in confidence. This may be a good find for Washington, even if Forbes was picked higher than expected. The frame is the biggest concern with Forbes.
31. Jack Campbell (Lions, LB, No. 18)
The Lions could have used help at linebacker, but did they really need to pick Campbell at No. 18? Campbell is excellent in awareness against the pass and his athleticism trumps inconsistently at tackling, yet this pick felt like a reach. He immediately starts at the MIKE in Detroit.
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