The best way to both prepare and evaluate the NFL Draft is to know the 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position.
Unlike other drafts, the NFL Draft is all about drafting based on need and addressing the positions on your roster that need help. Not all teams will be able to select some of the top prospects in the upcoming draft class. But they do need to know the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position.
Best 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position
Also, it’s a good idea to break down the 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position as a way to project if this could end up being one of the greatest draft classes of all time.
Most of the pre-draft talk has revolved around the Young vs Stroud debate for the top pick, but there are more than 200 other picks in the draft. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the best players by position in the 2023 draft.
There is some debate over what quarterback will be the top pick in the draft. However, most believe that Bryce Young is the best option.
While a little undersized, in an era of athletic and mobile quarterbacks, Young possesses those traits. He has the ability to improvise with his feet and make plays while also having an accurate arm. Keep in mind that Young did win a Heisman in college, so he has the skill set to succeed in the NFL.
Compared to Young, C.J. Stroud is a more conventional quarterback. He’s not going to use his legs as much but he does have big-time arm strength. Stroud is also bigger, allowing him to sit in the pocket and drive the ball down the field.
There’s nothing wrong with his accuracy either, so he has all of the tools of a conventional pocket passer. His resume at Ohio State speaks for itself, which is why he’s likely to go either first or second overall.
The need for quarterbacks early in this draft is going to make Anthony Richardson a high pick. In college, Richardson had his ups and downs, although his combination of size and athleticism gives him a great upside.
The caveat is that Richardson may not be ready to play right away, so the team that drafts him will need to be patient.
When evaluating the 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position, there are four quarterbacks who have a first-round grade, including Kentucky’s Will Levis.
He probably needs a little more polish, but Levis still has the size and arm strength of a prototypical pocket passer. Levis has a little more mobility than most people realize, and because the arm talent is there, he has the upside of a long-term starter in the NFL, even if he needs a little more time to develop.
There aren’t many running backs in today’s game who warrant a top 10-15 pick but Bijan Robinson is one of them.
He possesses elite speed and can also be elusive in space. Robinson also figures to be an asset in the passing game, potentially making him one of the few running backs in the league who can handle 20-25 touches per game week after week, making him a true workhorse back.
There is a good history of Alabama running backs in the NFL, which could help teams feel comfortable taking Jahmyr Gibbs late in the first round or early in the second round.
Despite being a little undersized, preventing him from being an every-down back, Gibbs is an explosive runner who will also catch a lot of passes. Gibbs is quick and elusive and can be compared to players like Alvin Kamara or Austin Ekeler.
While playing for TCU last year, Quentin Johnston turned himself into a first-round pick and arguably the top wide receiver in this class.
He’s 6’3’’ and well-built but also has high-end speed, so his raw tools are off the chart. Whether Johnston can use those tools properly against NFL-caliber corners remains to be seen, but the upside is there for teams needing a no. 1 wide receiver.
The two wide receivers from Ohio State in last year’s draft class were among the best rookies in 2022, which bodes well for Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He played alongside Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in 2021 and took full advantage of the attention those players received.
Despite a lost season in 2022, Smith-Njigba is a polished route runner with exceptional ball skills. There is some risk in drafting him because he only played one full year in college. However, Smith-Njigba figures to make an excellent no. 2 receiver in the NFL, possibly a no. 1 guy if things break well for him.
Wide receiver is arguably the deepest position when grading 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position, and Flowers is a big reason why.
He’s a little undersized at 5’9’’ and was easy to overlook because he played at Boston College. However, Flowers was always the best player on the field and made big plays despite garnering a lot of attention. His athleticism and toughness will allow him to overcome his lack of size and become an impact player in the NFL.
There are both pros and cons with Jordan Addison, which means his upside is high if he can find a way to improve upon his weaknesses.
He had some drop issues in college and isn’t always able to make plays after the catch. But if Addison can become a more reliable pass-catcher, he has an arsenal of weapons to help him get open. He’ll be a possession receiver in the NFL but one who can be a high-volume target.
With one look at Michael Mayer, it’s easy to see why he has a chance to be a difference-maker in the NFL. He’s an excellent blocker who was key to Notre Dame’s rushing attack in college while also having great ball skills.
Mayer has the size to post up defenders and make contested catches and create mismatches against linebackers. He’s not the most athletic tight end but Mayer will be a useful target on third downs and in the red zone.
As a pure pass-catcher, Dalton Kincaid might be the best tight end available in this class.
He has a reliable set of hands and elite ball skills. Despite lacking the size and physicality to contribute much as a blocker in the NFL, Kincaid will quickly make an impact in the NFL as a receiver.
Coming out of Georgia, Darnell Washington has the ideal combination of size and athleticism.
He’s already established himself as a great blocker but is yet to do the same as a pass-catcher. That being said, Washington has the hands and athleticism to develop that part of his game and become one of the NFL’s most well-rounded tight ends.
Among offensive linemen who will be ready to start as rookies, Peter Skoronski is undoubtedly the best available in this year’s class. Granted, the Northwestern product’s future might be at guard rather than tackle.
However, he did handle himself at tackle against Big Ten pass rushers and might have the highest football IQ of any lineman in the draft. He will fit best with a team that wants to run the ball because that’s where Skoronski excels the most.
Paris Johnson Jr.
During his time at Ohio State, Paris Johnson Jr. played multiple positions, so he should be able to find a home somewhere. If he’s a first-round pick, the team that drafts him will want him to play left tackle, a position he only played for one year.
However, while he lacks experience and polish, Johnson’s combination of size and athleticism makes him a candidate to be a long-term left tackle in the NFL, even if there is a learning curve early in his career.
Will Anderson Jr.
Among defensive players, Will Anderson Jr. is the best player available in this year’s class. He has elite athleticism, allowing him to rack up 34.5 sacks in three years at Alabama, including 17.5 sacks in 2021.
At the same time, Anderson is also good at defending the run. Defensive coordinators will be able to move him all over the field, making him an invaluable chess piece who should be able to hit the ground running in the NFL after dominating on the Alabama defense.
Teams looking for an edge rusher with impressive tools will drool over Tyree Wilson. The Texas Tech product is 6’6’’ and 270 pounds with an impressive wingspan.
He takes up a lot of space and brings a lot of physicality to the table. There are still some things to iron out, but his size and athleticism give Wilson the ability to make a huge impact in the NFL.
Lukas Van Ness
The pass-rushing options in this class continue with Lukas Van Ness, who comes from Iowa. Strength and flexibility are two critical traits that pass-rushers need, and Van Ness has a healthy supply of them.
He also has an excellent motor, which teams will love and gives him a chance to keep developing and getting better. While Van Ness lacks experience and polished pass-rushing moves, the raw materials to become an impact pass-rusher are there.
As a top recruit coming out of high school who played at Clemson, Myles Murphy has athletic tools that few players possess. He’s proven that he can line up just about anywhere on the defensive line and disrupt plays, even if his production doesn’t jump off the page.
In addition to having exceptional talent, Murphy passes all of the character tests with flying colors, so there isn’t much downside for whatever team drafts him.
As a member of the Georgia defense that won back-to-back national titles, Nolan Smith understands what it takes to win. Over the last few years, Smith showed that he was competent against the run and the pass while proving to be one of the most physical players in the country.
Even if he’s not the most refined pass rusher right now, his athleticism will allow defensive coordinators to put him all over the field and find ways to use Smith’s tools.
Off-field concerns have caused Jalen Carter’s stock to drop heading into the draft. He also only started one year in college, although that’s not surprising at Georgia, which has been overloaded with defensive talent in recent years.
But if you look at Carter’s physical tools, he’s an absolute steal if he falls out of the top 10. He has a ridiculous combination of size and athleticism, which is why Carter was a candidate to be the top overall pick before his off-field issues popped up.
Bryan Bresee is the latest in a long line of high-end defensive players to come out of Clemson. Outside of some injuries that limited how much experience he got, Bresee figures to be a safe pick.
He’s quick for a player his size and isn’t lacking strength. Bresee is also a lineman who can fit into multiple schemes, so there are a lot of teams that can put him to good use.
While interior linebacker isn’t a deep position in this draft, Drew Sanders is a safe option for teams looking to fill a need at that spot. While he needs to add strength, Sanders is long and lean, so he can take up a lot of space in zone coverage while also serving as a viable pass-rusher.
Sanders will need to get stronger but can still have a role on an NFL defense while he develops.
Coming out of Iowa, Jack Campbell has the size and physicality teams want in a linebacker. In terms of his athleticism, there are some limitations, so Campbell may not match up well with tight ends or running backs in man-to-man situations.
But in terms of diagnosing plays and being a leader on the field, Campbell is exactly what NFL teams want in a middle linebacker.
When grading 2023 NFL Draft prospects by position, the cornerback position is the hardest to rank. However, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez has distinguished himself from the pack just about, likely making him the first player selected at that position.
Gonzalez possesses the length, athleticism, and instincts that give him the potential to be something special at corner. He has the potential to develop into a Pro Bowler and could get there sooner rather than later.
After being a key figure on a surprisingly stout Illinois defense last year, Devon Witherspoon ranks as one of the top cornerbacks in this draft. He’s not the most physical corner available, although Witherspoon has rarely struggled to make tackles.
Witherspoon also has the man-to-man coverage ability and ball skills that NFL teams will covet. He’s also not short on confidence, which is another key trait for elite corners.
In terms of size and physicality, Deonte Banks might be the best corner in this class.
He might lack the speed to match elite receivers stride for stride, but that might not be an issue with his size and length, which allow him to be physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. Teams that are looking for a press corner will like what they see from Banks.
Joey Porter Jr.
As the son of a former NFL player, Joey Porter Jr. should have a lot of the intangibles that will help him succeed at the next level. His father was a linebacker, so his lineage will immediately make the younger Porter one of the biggest corners in the NFL.
He’s only started to use that size and strength to become a press corner while also possessing the type of ball skills that could make Porter an elite corner one day.
The safety position is a little short on depth in this year’s class, which should help make Brian Branch a first-round pick because he’s the only player at that position with a clear first-round grade.
The Alabama product is one of the most versatile defensive backs available over the last several drafts. Branch is an excellent run-stopper but is also athletic enough to cover ground on the back end. Plus, since he’s coming out of Alabama, Branch has a high football IQ and will have no problem picking up the mental side of things in the NFL.
Despite not getting a ton of attention at Boise State, JL Skinner is one of the most intriguing defensive backs in the draft.
He’s 6’4’’ and fully understands how to use his size and physicality. Unfortunately, that could limit his ability to play man coverage against NFL wide receivers. But Skinner is as strong as any defensive back in this class and comes with a high motor, making him a useful chess piece for defensive coordinators.