2023 NFL Draft Grades: Rating every first-round pick by value

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Here’s how the first-round selections in the 2023 NFL Draft measured up against FanSided’s 2023 NFL Draft Big Board featuring the Top 50 players. 

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft didn’t go exactly as planned, but then again, it never does.

Some picks were predictable for valid reasons, such as the Carolina Panthers choosing Bryce Young to revitalize their franchise. Others, on the other hand, were shocking, often involving unexpected trades. C.J. Stroud was a lock in Houston, yet the Texans went even further by boldly trading up for Will Anderson Jr. Somehow, the Eagles landed Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, a rare feat for a team that just went to a Super Bowl.

The Texans and Eagles stunned with their brilliance, but other teams stunned onlookers in confusion. The Lions seemed to reach for Jahmyr Gibbs, a move which was contextualized by their decision to trade D’Andre Swift. Still, Jack Campbell, the only first-round player who wasn’t a Top 50 prospect, also seemed like a reach with Drew Sanders and Trent Simpson available.

2023 NFL Draft Grades: Rating every first-round pick by value

What factors into how well a team drafted is the player themselves, the team’s needs, the team’s scheme for that particular position, and what the team had to do in order to acquire that player.

It’s why the Vikings receive a C+ for taking Jordan Addison, even though Addison is a phenomenal player who is guaranteed to boost their offense. It’s also why the Texans earned an A+ for drafting C.J. Stroud but a B+ for drafting Will Anderson Jr. — they had to give up so much draft capital just to land Anderson, even if he’s considered to be the best edge rusher in the draft.

Just like the art of drafting, the art of draft grading is an imperfect science, but there’s context as to why each grade was marked the way it was. Draft grades will be irrelevant come fall, but for now, here’s how the first-round picks come across, even in light of later round selections in the draft.

1. With the first overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select…

NFL Draft Grades

Bryce Young of Alabama. (Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images)

A+

Bryce Young

QB Alabama

When the Carolina Panthers traded up for the No. 1 overall pick, it was all but certain that they’d draft their quarterback of the future here. That quarterback was most likely Bryce Young, and on Thursday, they confirmed that Young would be the one to revitalize their franchise.

The quarterback situation has been dire in recent seasons, with the Panthers cycling through secondhand quarterbacks like Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield to no avail.

The trade was costly, as the Bears landed wide receiver D.J. Moore and four draft picks in exchange, but it was the necessary price to land a talent like Young. As the “most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft”, Young draws Drew Brees comparisons in stature and in processing and execution. With this, the Panthers are prepared to shape their future.

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