Too often, the grades for the 2023 draft come out immediately after the draft ends. No one has had the proper time to digest the picks, the trades, the team needs or the values of the draft classes. And far, far too often those grades are reflective only of the analysts’ pre-draft rankings versus where a player was selected.
We aren’t doing that.
These grades are aimed at how well teams filled their current and future needs—factoring in age, free agency, the salary cap and predicted player progress or regression.
Please keep that in mind—this is NOT a grade based on where a player ranked pre-draft.
Let’s get into it.
Pre-draft needs: DE, DT, CB, RB, OT
Picks: Paris Johnson (OT), BJ Ojulari (OLB), Garrett Williams (CB), Michael Wilson (WR), Jon Gaines II (OG), Clayton Tune (QB), Owen Pappoe (LB), Kei’Trel Clark (CB), Dante Stills (DT)
Notes: The Cardinals traded back from No. 3 overall to No. 12, with Houston, then came back up to No. 6 overall for Paris Johnson. This has the Cardinals set up with six selections in the top three rounds next year. Otherwise, the front office seemed to value “best player available” on a roster that has needs at every position group. The Cardinals’ grade is boosted by the selections added in 2024.
Pre-draft needs: DE, WR, CB, QB, DT
Picks: Bijan Robinson (RB), Matthew Bergeron (OT), Zach Harrison (DE), Clark Phillips III (CB), DeMarrco Hellams (S), Jovaughn Gwyn (OG)
Notes: A running back in the top 10 wasn’t a need despite the player value. The same goes for an offensive lineman in Round 2 given that’s the strength of the team. Perhaps it’s a sign that left tackle Jake Matthews isn’t in the long-term plans. Harrison and Phillips are good values that fill future or current needs.
Pre-draft needs: WR, CB, OLB, OT, OG
Picks: Zay Flowers (WR), Trenton Simpson (LB), Tavius Robinson (OLB), Kyu Blu Kelly (CB), Mala Aumavae-Laulu (OT), Andrew Vorhees (OG)
Notes: Getting Lamar Jackson signed pre-draft took a huge need off the board. Flowers will start Year 1, but the rest of the draft was about future needs. Trenton Simpson will replace Patrick Queen and Kyu Blu Kelly could push for rookie reps in nickel and dime situations with starter potential in ‘24.
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