Ranking Each Positional Group in the 2023 NFL Draft from Worst to First

Alex KayContributor IJanuary 25, 2023

Ranking Each Positional Group in the 2023 NFL Draft from Worst to First

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    NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 31: Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide stands on the field during the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Caesars Superdome on December 31, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama Crimson Tide won the game 45 - 20. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    Each NFL draft has its own sets of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to positional groups.

    For example, wide receiver has been an S-tier position over the last few years, including last April when a six came off the board in the first 18 picks.

    While wideout may not see as many Day 1 picks this year, it still appears to be one of the stronger talent pools in this class. There are other positions where there are far more skilled prospects available than there has been in recent years, as well as some that severely lack quality talent.

    With that in mind, here's a ranked list—in order of worst to first—breaking down the relative strength of the 2023 draft class based on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's latest big board. You can find the grading scale referenced in this article below:

    Grading Scale

    10: Generational Talent/No. 1 Overall

    9.5-9.9: Top-Five Prospect

    9.0-9.4: Top-10 Prospect

    8.5-8.9: Immediate Impact Prospect / 1st Round

    8.0-8.4: Year 1 Starter / Late 1st-2nd Round

    7.5-7.9: Potential Impact Player / 2nd Round

    7.0-7.4: High-Level Backup / Potential Starter / 3rd Round

    6.5-6.9: Potential Role Player / 4th Round

    6.0-6.4: High-Level Developmental Prospect / 5th Round

    5.5-5.9: Backup/Draftable / 6th-7th Round

    5.0-5.4: Backup/UDFA with Roster Potential / UDFA

    4.0-4.9: Developmental Prospect / UDFA

    3.0-3.9: Training Camp Body / UDFA

11. Interior Offensive Line

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    Florida's O'Cyrus Torrence
    Florida's O'Cyrus TorrenceChris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Guards and centers rarely have a premium placed upon them. Given the weakness of this class, it's possible that few, if any, come off the board on the first day.

    There are only 14 interior offensive linemen ranked in the top 150, and none of those players received a grade of 8.0—considered an immediate impact talent—or higher. Only five earned a score between 7.0 and 7.9, indicating they have the potential to become a starter early in their careers.

    Expect a run on this group later in the draft as teams look to shore up weak points in their offensive trenches with budget-friendly options.

    The best of this relatively weak bunch is O'Cyrus Torrence (scouting report), Florida's massive right guard. The 6'5", 347-pound road-grader earned first-team All-American honors this past season and should be a quality starter soon at the NFL level.

10. Linebacker

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    Clemson's Trenton Simpson
    Clemson's Trenton SimpsonAP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

    There are plenty of decent linebackers available in the 2023 class, with a whopping 17 ranking inside of the top 150, but there are no true standouts.

    Only five prospects have earned a grade between a 7.0 and 7.9, and no one secured a mark of 8.0 or higher.

    Off-ball linebackers generally need to dazzle to earn an early selection.

    Clemson's Trenton Simpson (scouting report) is the closest thing to a star in this group thanks to his versatility and athleticism, but even he has flaws that could turn some teams off.

    Simpson lacks pass-rushing moves when sent on a blitz, struggles in zone coverage and has a tendency to get stuck on blocks. His man coverage skills, agility and tackling capabilities help hide some of these issues, but he still has a good amount of development left to be done.

9. Safety

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    Georgia's Christopher Smith
    Georgia's Christopher SmithJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Franchises in need of an elite safety won't have much to choose from when they are on the clock this year.

    The talent pool at this position is limited, as only 11 safeties earned a top-150 mark. Only three scored between a 7.0 and 7.9, and just one received a grade higher than an 8.0.

    That high mark belongs to Christopher Smith (scouting report), a likely first-round pick who has a strong chance to excel early in his career. One of the few knocks on the Georgia product is his lack of size at 5'11", 195 pounds, but he more than makes up for his smaller frame with incredible instincts, great ball skills and physical play.

    Once Smith comes off the board, teams will have to settle for some lesser prospects to fill the holes in their secondaries.

8. Tight End

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    Notre Dame's Michael Mayer
    Notre Dame's Michael MayerBrian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    There are rarely more than a handful of quality tight end tends available in any draft class, and that isn't changing in 2023. Only seven of them made the top 150 this year, but there are at least several potential stars lurking within this group.

    Of the seven to land on the big board, five earned grades between a 7.0 and 7.9, and one scored above an 8.0.

    Notre Dame has been pumping out good NFL tight ends over the last decade-plus, and that trend seems certain to continue this year thanks to the availability of Michael Mayer (scouting report).

    Mayer earned a sterling 8.7 grade—the sixth-best in the entire class—following a phenomenal run with the Fighting Irish. He appeared in 12 games in each of three of his seasons and racked up over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on 180 catches during that span.

    The 6'4½", 265-pounder has just about every quality a team could want in a modern tight end. Possessing size, speed, hands, strength and route-running skills in spades, Mayer will no doubt quickly make a successful transition to the pros.

    Georgia's massive Darnell Washington (6'7", 270 lbs)—the No. 32 overall prospect in this class—could follow Mayer off the board shortly in the first round, while Utah's Dalton Kincaid could be a steal in the second round because of his top-tier pass-catching skills.

7. Quarterback

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    Ohio State's C.J. Stroud
    Ohio State's C.J. StroudDavid J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    After a draft in which only one quarterback came off the board during the first two rounds, teams desperate for a signal-caller must be breathing a sigh of relief in 2023.

    There are several potential franchise quarterbacks available this year, including two who have a realistic shot to come off the board as early as No. 2 overall.

    While the class isn't chock-full of high-end passers, there are a respectable seven players who rank in the top 150 at this position, including three who earned a grade of 7.0 to 7.9 and two with an 8.0 score or higher.

    Ohio State's C.J. Stroud (scouting report) earned the highest mark of the bunch. His 8.4 grade is the eighth-best of any prospect and puts him slightly ahead of Alabama's Bryce Young (scouting report), who scored an 8.2 and is No. 13.

    Considering how many teams picking early in first round are downright desperate for a quarterback upgrade, it's hard to see either player slipping past the Houston Texans at No. 2 and the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4.

    Teams that miss out on these two potential Pro Bowlers will still have options. There are many who believe Will Levis is a future superstar, including ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who ranked the Kentucky product as the No. 3 overall prospect and top quarterback on his latest big board.

    Florida's Anthony Richardson also looks like a high-risk, high-reward developmental prospect whom a club may roll the dice on as early as Day 1. There are few players in the class with as much athleticism as the Gators product, and that could help him to become an impact quarterback at the NFL level.

6. Cornerback

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    Penn State's Joey Porter Jr.
    Penn State's Joey Porter Jr. Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Teams can't have enough good cornerbacks to counter the sheer number of quality wideouts who have entered the league in recent years. With squads making the most of these offensive weapons, having serviceable counters is imperative to contend in the modern game.

    That trend will likely lead to a handful of the top corners in the 2023 class coming off the board early. There are several solid prospects to choose from, with 11 ranking in the top 150 and seven earning a grade of a 7.0 to 7.9.

    Only one earned a mark above an 8.0, however, and that is Penn State's Joey Porter Jr. (scouting report).

    Porter is a slam-dunk top-10 pick this year because of his elite size, strong ball skills and hard-nosed physical play style. The 6'2", 194-pound corner can keep pace with his marks and control them with his strength. He's a willing tackler who gets involved in the running game and should quickly carve out a major role at the next level.

    It doesn't hurt Porter that his namesake father was an NFL star who played 13 seasons in the league and earned four Pro Bowl nods.

    Clubs that miss out on Porter will have a chance to select South Carolina's Cam Smith (scouting report), another potential top-10 pick. Utah's Clark Phillips III (scouting report) is likely coming off the board on Day 1 as well.

5. Running Back

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    Texas' Bijan Robinson
    Texas' Bijan RobinsonAdam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    While running backs tend to be under-drafted in comparison to the value they can provide and their predraft grades, this class has some potential game-changers teams may not wait long to select.

    There is certainly no shortage of intriguing prospects, with 14 earning top-150 distinctions. Of that group, five earned scores of 7.0-7.9, and two were rated at 8.0 or higher.

    The crown jewel of the 2023 running back class is Texas' Bijan Robinson (scouting report). Robinson has absurd talent, and that is reflected in his lofty 9.0 mark, the fourth-highest overall.

    At 6'0", 222 pounds, Robinson has more than adequate size to take on a featured role in the NFL. His big frame doesn't seem to hinder his speed or athleticism, as he's plenty capable of accelerating quickly and breaking away from defenders.

    Given his quality work as a pass-catcher and rapidly improving protection skills, it's tough to find something to knock in the 20-year-old's game. His only flaws tend to be hesitation to hit holes at times and a slight lack of power for someone his size.

    While Robinson will be gone early, teams looking for a running back later could turn to Alabama's sturdy Jahmyr Gibbs—the No. 18 overall prospect—or Devon Achane, Texas A&M's diminutive (5'9", 185 lbs) scatback and return man.

4. Offensive Tackle

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    Northwestern's Peter Skoronski
    Northwestern's Peter SkoronskiRobin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Offensive tackles are often sought at or near the top of a draft. Squads that have managed to find a quality quarterback—almost always the most important item on any team's to-do list—must protect that investment, and there's almost no better way to accomplish that than by selecting a blue-chip tackle.

    Fortunately for the many clubs needing to bolster their protection, this class has a plethora of tackles who could bookend either side of an NFL offensive line for the foreseeable future.

    Thirteen landed in the top 150 in 2023, including a hefty seven with a grade of a 7.0 to 7.9 and two with marks above an 8.0.

    While none of these prospects earned a top-10 designation, Northwestern's Peter Skoronski (scouting report) came up just short at No. 11 overall. The 6'4", 315-pound mauler earned first-team All-American honors after making 12 starts at the left tackle spot for the Wildcats in 2022.

    Skoronski has been a fixture in the school's offensive trenches since he was a true freshman in 2020 and should find similar success early in his NFL career. While teams may be leery about his short arm length and tendency to be overaggressive, he has a fantastic sense of timing, great foot quickness and active hands that should allow him to overcome that physical limitation.

    A club may also opt to make Paris Johnson Jr. (scouting report) the first offensive tackle off the board.

    The Ohio State product ranks just one slot behind Skoronski and is even more impressive physically than his Northwestern counterpart. Johnson has a surprising amount of athleticism for a 6'6", 310-pounder, but his protection skills are still a tad raw and need to be developed before he can become an NFL star.

3. Wide Receiver

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    TCU's Quentin Johnston
    TCU's Quentin JohnstonChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Although there may not be any surefire generational wide receiver talents in this draft class, teams wanting to improve this area will have their pick of an impressive group.

    This is a deep class, with 14 players earning top-150 marks. Seven of those prospects scored a grade between a 7.0 and 7.9, while three graded above an 8.0.

    It's likely going to be a tight race between TCU's Quentin Johnston (scouting report) and USC's Jordan Addison to be the first to come off the board. There is a strong argument for Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba to be in the discussion as well.

    Johnston is considered the No. 7 overall prospect this year because of his prototypical size (6'4", 215 lbs) and speed. When he's not beating his defenders with his crisp routes, he's able to use his big frame and athleticism to make contested grabs with ease. He has the versatility to play on the outside but can also line up in the slot to exploit matchups.

    Addison had a record-setting 2021 campaign at Pittsburgh but fell off during his lone year with the Trojans. He still finished his three-year collegiate career with an impressive 3,134 yards and 29 touchdowns on 219 receptions. He accomplished all of this despite standing just 6'0" and tipping the scales at a meager 175 pounds, a size that could ultimately turn some teams off from drafting him early.

    Smith-Njigba isn't as big as Johnston or as productive as Addison, but the 6'1", 200-pound wideout possesses a good mix of body control, acceleration and hands. He looked like a guaranteed NFL superstar in 2021 during a breakout season with the Buckeyes but missed most of the 2022 campaign with a hamstring injury that may impact where he comes off the board.

2. Defensive Line

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    Georgia's Jalen Carter
    Georgia's Jalen CarterRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    The 2022 draft was a weak one for defensive linemen, but the script has been flipped this year. There are a slew of elite prospects ripe for the taking, something that should have NFL offensive linemen concerned.

    This group had the second-most amount of prospects earn top-150 designations in 2023, with a position-high 11 of them earning scores between 7.0 and 7.9. Two stood a cut above the rest, however, drawing grades of 8.0 or higher.

    The consensus prospect here is Jalen Carter (scouting report), a defensive tackle who just wrapped up a sensational career at Georgia. He's the No. 2 overall player on the big board and has a remarkable 9.5 overall grade.

    Carter helped guide the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships by both shutting down the run and creating havoc in the backfield. The 6'3", 300-pound behemoth already has good size for an NFL defensive tackle and has room to add even more power to his frame.

    The 21-year-old possesses a versatile pass-rushing skill set and is both strong and quick enough to get off blocks and stop rushing plays at the line of scrimmage.

    Carter is far from the only Day 1 defensive line prospect. Clemson's Bryan Bresee (scouting report) should follow him closely off the board after a dominant run in Death Valley.

    Bresee stands at a hulking 6'5", 305 pounds and can contribute in all facets when he's healthy, but he did miss 13 games with injuries and personal reasons and isn't as polished as Carter because of this lost time.

1. Edge-Rusher

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    Alabama's Will Anderson Jr.
    Alabama's Will Anderson Jr.Justin Ford/Getty Images

    Pass-rushing is at a premium in the NFL right now, but that could change a bit following the conclusion of the 2023 draft.

    This class is absolutely loaded with capable edge defenders. No position is more represented in the top 150.

    Even after Jared Verse—whom the Bleacher Report Scouting Department graded as the No. 25 overall player—announced he would be returning to Florida State, there are 22 of them who made it onto this year's big board.

    Many of these prospects are worthy of selections in the early rounds. Six earned a 7.0 to 7.9 grade, while four of only 18 players to earn an 8.0-plus mark make their living on the defensive edge.

    The headliner is none other than Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. (scouting report), the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2023 class. His 9.6 grade indicates he's a can't-miss prospect, and watching the Crimson Tide product on tape makes it apparent he's bound for stardom.

    Even though Anderson is just 21 years old, there are very few flaws in his game. He has an ideal build at 6'4", 243 pounds and makes everything look effortless. The Georgia native finished his time in Tuscaloosa with 34.5 sacks and can get to the quarterback with ease using an array of pass-rushing moves. He is arguably even more skilled when it comes to stopping the run, notching 204 tackles, including 58.5 tackles for loss, in 41 games.

    While Anderson is likely going to be the first player off the board this year, teams without the No. 1 overall pick will next look to Clemson's Myles Murphy (scouting report) to shore up the edge. Murphy is a potential All-Pro talent in his own right, and his 9.1 grade is the third-best this year.

    Other notable pass-rushers in this class include Georgia's Nolan Smith (scouting report); LSU's BJ Ojulari (scouting report); Army's Andre Carter II; and Notre Dame's Isaiah Foskey (scouting report), all whom have a realistic shot at becoming first-round picks in 2023.

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