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AFC 2023 NFL Draft Grades

C.J. Stroud

C.J. Stroud

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Froton goes over every AFC team’s 2023 NFL Draft and assigns grades to their final haul. Don’t forget to check out Kyle Dvorchak’s NFC Draft Grades right here.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens replace Marquise Brown with a younger, cheaper, more versatile weapon in Zay Flowers, who checks in as my WR2 from this class. Flowers should serve as the perfect compliment to a returning Rashod Bateman and All-Pro TE Mark Andrews…..The Ravens then bided their time through the second round before stopping Trenton Simpson‘s free-fall at 86 overall. My LB3, Simpson was a menace in 2021 with the All-ACC linebacker posting 32 pressures and receiving a stellar 87.1 pass rush grade from PFF. His closing speed is backed up by a blinding 1.48s 10-yard split and 4.43s 40-yard dash that were both 99th-percentile marks, while his 9.83 RAS shows high–end measurables…..Canadian Edge Tavius Robinson adjusted well to life in the States, recording 44 tackles, 8.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks with a FBS leading five forced fumbles in 2022. A long, linear defender who is physically suited to rush the passer, Robinson’s active hands and get off helped him put up 40 pressures and 18 stops against SEC caliber competition, as is reflected in his 8.74 RAS .…..Blue Kelly was named Second Team All-Pac-12 the last two seasons, leading the P12 in PBU in 2021 while recording 58 tackles and 16 stops with a 72.2 PFF cover grade. However his 4.52s 40-yard dash was the 21st slowest time from the CB class. Baltimore held serve with another solid draft, taking an impact skill player before pivoting to plucking value on defense and the OL. There isn’t a stiff in the bunch either, as even their last pick Voorhees is a former All-American who is recovering from injury. They can bring him along slow at a dirt-cheap R7 cost before inserting Voorhees into the OL mix in 2024, similar to how they sat on Michigan EDGE David Ojabo for a season.

Grade: B-

Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded up for Utah TE Dalton Kincaid, the athletic receiving tight end who can catch the ball outside of his frame with advanced body control that allows him two make contested catches. A true seam-stretcher, Kincaid gives Josh Allen a potentially elite tight end to torture AFC defenses with. OG O’Cyrus Torrence was widely mocked to be selected in the first round and is considered one of the top run-blocking IOL’s in the 2023 class. Getting him at #59 is a very fortunate development for the Bills. Tulane LB DorIan Williams (6'1/228) was a nondescript, low three-star prospect who worked his way up to become a Tulane program legend and three-time All-AAC honoree. While he likely doesn’t have the requisite bulk and take-on skills to consistently play in the box at the NFL level, Williams received PFF coverage grades of 87.0 and 90.2 which are elite scores that should translate well to the NFL. Justin Shorter is a former five-star wideout who is a legitimate 6'4/229 and ran a 4.55s 40, but his agility tests were sub-20th percentile marks. He could be dangerous in 1-on-1 situations.

Grade: B-

Cincinnati Bengals

The only player in the country to record 10 TFL and a forced fumble each of the last three seasons, Murphy (6'5/268) ran an eye-popping 4.53s 40-yard dash that was a 99th percentile time with a 9.71 RAS. He has the Speed/Power potential to be a building block defender in the mold of Rashaun Gary….Michigan CB DJ Turner famously ran a 4.36s 40-yard dash, which was the top mark from the 2023 class. Turner (5'11/178) raised his level of play last year by recording 11 PBU with a 46.5 completion rate en route to Second Team All-Big Ten status. His wheels are unassailable, but Turner will have to prove he can hold up physically on the outside against bigger wideouts despite his lean upper body?.....Chuck Sizzle/Chase Brown/Andre Iosivas help to restock the skill position cupboard, though it’s interesting they didn’t target a TE considering Irv Smith is likely a short term solution. I think Chase Brown (5'9/209) is in a great spot with the uncertainty surrounding Mixon, and he’s proven he can handle a tough workload at Illinois. Brown has the athleticism to capitalize on his situation too, with a 4.43s 40 (94th%), 40” vert (97th%), 25 bench reps (94th%) and a stellar 9.81 RAS.

Grade: B-

Cleveland Browns

Better late than never for the Browns, who didn’t pick until taking a favorite WR of mine, Cedric Tillman (6'3/213), Tennessee, at 74 overall. He tore up the vaunted 2021 Georgia defense for 10 recs/200 yards and has shown the ability to win downfield in contested catch scenarios. If Tillman wasn’t injured for most of 2022, Jalin Hyatt doesn’t win the Biletnikoff…..They went big on the line - and by big I mean verifiably gargantuan - with DL Siaki Ika (6'3/335) and Dawand Jones (6'8/374), in addition to another big, athletic EDGE defender in Isaiah McGuire (6'4/268) who I posted a superb 9.52 RAS and was a noticeable value at 126. Stopping Luke Wypler‘s slide is a true “Why not?” selection and adds a cherry on top of a pretty good, value-oriented draft that reinforced their OL/DL while adding a potential impact WR who I think is able to challenge David Bell immediately

Grade: C+

Denver Broncos

Anyone who has been following me throughout the draft process knows I am Marvin Mims Stan #1, having been one of the very few people to rank Mims (5'11/183) in the top-10 of their WR rankings before his jaw-dropping, 4.38s 40, 9.41 RAS Combine performance that rocketed Mims up boards. 16.2% of his receptions went for 40+ yards, while averaging 13.5 yards per target over the last two years, with both marks leading the entire country. I loved the #67 selection of Drew Sanders, my LB1 narrowly over Jack Campbell. A former five-star EDGE at Alabama, Sanders finished second in the SEC in sacks from an off-ball alignment and is a terror when blitzing. Riley Moss was a 2021 All-American and has elite ball skills with 11 career interceptions. The Hawkeyes’ team captain earned PFF overall defensive grades of 80.0+ in each of the last two seasons and posted an exceptional 9.68 RAS at the Combine. We can’t forget the pride of Point Loma High School in San Diego, CA, JL Skinner, who is a hard-hitting safety that I view as top-10 in the class. Skinner (6'4/209) grew up as a standout basketball player who learned the game at the legendary Ocean Beach Recreation Center in San Diego, CA, where I actually hooped with Skinner and his crew that included current Yale standout basketball player, Yassine Gharam. Even in his mid-teens, Skinner was a unit on the court who routinely played up against older, college-level players. He is a full inch taller than Quentin Johnston, with 32” arms that helped him hold opponents to a microscopic 40.1 NFL passer rating when targeted in 2022.

Grade: B

Houston Texans

We got treated to some serious draft theater when the Texans traded up to #3 for Bama EDGE Will Anderson, giving up their 2024 1st round pick which should in theory be a pretty high selection considering the rebuilding state of the franchise with a first year QB starter in C.J. Stroud. Juice Scruggs was a little surprising in R2 considering Ohio State C Luke Wypler went R6 and they’re not exactly worlds apart talent-wise. Nathaniel Dell fills a much-needed passing game weapon to replace Brandin Cooks, But Dell is extremely small at 5'8/165 and ran an “OK’ for his size 4.49s 40. It should be noted that Dell tore apart the Senior Bowl, but there simply aren’t a lot of successful pro comps for players of his size. I thought Horton (109) and To’o To’o (167) were solid picks at their respective slots, while Xavier Hutchinson (205) has real sleeper potential for a flier. I’m concerned that Houston has mortgaged their future to finance the present by trading away a 2024 First Rounder to move up 9 spots that could be an absolute gold mine if Houston and their imminently flawed roster doesn’t experience a momentous turn around. They may have given away Caleb Williams/Drake Maye/Marvin Harrison Jr. AND the #33 pick AND and another 3rd Rounder next year…for 9 spots of 2023 Draft Capital + #105 this year. C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson had better be immediate impact players, or this trade could be a catastrophe.

Grade: D

Indianapolis Colts

With a whopping 12 selections, my breakdown would look like War & Peace if I went pick-by-pick here. I believe the Colts had a logical, disciplined draft approach in taking the young, talented, high-ceiling QB who is confirmed to be the most freaky signal caller to ever test at the NFL Scouting Combine. I have been advocating for AR here and took a strong position on him going #4 at +340 on Tuesday when the Levis rumors hit their mind-numbing apex. CB Brents is a long, athletic bully who grew into his body this season, learning to leverage his elite change of direction ability and vast wingspan (34” arms) to rack up eight PBU, four interceptions and 45 tackles. The First Team All-Big 12 corner took over the Combine by running a 4.05 shuttle (91st%), 6.63 3-Cone (98th%) and 1.5 10-yard split (96%) to go with 99th percentile jumping drills for a near-perfect 9.99 RAS. Downs is the perfect shifty, dependable slot receiver inside of Michael Pittman to help AR ease into the QB role. The were fortunate to land him at #79, and the same goes for uber-athletic BYU OT Blake Freeland (9.89 RAS) who dominated in both phases during his collegiate career, recording a 90.7 PFF pass block grade and an 87.9 run block grade, albeit against mid to low levels of competition. Adetomiwa Adebawore completes their targeting of athletic marvels at the top-end of their draft. His 4.49s 40-yard dash is the 10th fastest Edge time in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine. If that weren’t impressive enough, he did it at 282 pounds which is 20+ pounds heavier than every single one of the 10 edge players ahead of him on that list (Amare Barno #1 All Time - 4.37). TE Will Mallory (4.54s 40 = 98th%) and RB Evan Hull (9.32) are both players I really like at their respective draft positions.

Grade: A

Jacksonville Jaguars

Anton Harrison (6'4/315) had generated a lot of steam heading into the week as a potential first-rounder, with Jacksonville trading back and still picking up the First Team All-Big 12 left tackle. Harrison lacks a plus tool when it comes to both strength and lateral movement, which is why he didn’t bench or do agility drills at the Combine despite posting a rock solid 1.71s 10-yard split (96th%). However he does a nice job in offsetting those deficiencies with a keen understanding of proper positioning and how to use the play call to leverage his strengths and minimize his limitations. What really strikes me about the Jags is their 10 selections from pick 121-to-240, choosing to spray the board and take players from just about every position group outside of QB to bolster their depth chart and provide hungry challengers for the current vets. Every pick from Bigsby at #88, to Washington at #185 features an accomplished Power Five prospect who has the potential to contribute at their positions. Those picks allowed the Jags to pivot to a few deep cuts in the late rounds that some of their local scouts likely unearthed and fit their intentions.

Grade: B-

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs get Anudike-Uzomah (6'3/255) to pair with George Karlaftis as their EDGE pair of the future. Anudike-Uzomah entered college at 220-pounds, but by 2021 he added 30 pounds while starting every game for the Wildcats, producing 51 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 11.0 sacks and an FBS-leading six forced fumbles. He then doubled-down on that breakout season by earning the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award to go with Second Team All-American recognition. Rice led the FBS in targets last year, feasting on the soft AAC secondaries while compiling a very projectable 9.53 RAS. Wanya Morris is a former five-star Tennessee recruit who pushed Darnell Wright to right tackle before transferring to Oklahoma. Morris’ exemplary play earned the transfer tackle Second Team All-Big 12 recognition by the AP, and an invitation to the Senior Bowl. His 5.11s 40-yard dash was an 83rd percentile mark while his 9'03” broad jump hit the 90th% threshold, as Morris recorded a commendable 8.31 RAS to go with freakish 35.125” arms. A converted slot corner who moved around more in new HC Brent Pry’s system, Conner boasts verified athleticism, running a 4.51s 40-yard dash (81st%) with a 40.5” vertical (96th%) and 10'05” broad jump (84th%) along with 20 bench reps (89th%) for a rock solid 9.16 RAS. Nic Jones is a potential nickel CB I really like as a R7 flier as well.

Grade: B

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders stayed at the #7 spot and selected Max Crosby’s running-mate on the EDGE, Tyree Wilson. The former Texas A&M signee emerged in 2022, recording 50 pressures and 32 run stops in just 538 snaps while receiving First Team All-American recognition. On a big stage against the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs, Wilson produced season highs with seven pressures and three QB hits, which solidified his top-10 draft status. TE Michael Mayer falling to 35 was a very fortunate development, as he slides right into Darren Waller‘s starting role. I thought what they did in the secondary was very smart, grabbing a very fast, athletic CB in Maryland’s Jakorian Bennett to go with a battle-tested safety Christopher Smith of Georgia. Aidan O’Connell was my Shrine Bowl QB MVP and fits the Parcells/Belichick/McDaniels preference of experienced, steady-handed quarterbacks who can step right in if needed and be able to handle an NFL offense conceptually, with O’Connell also being as high-character a player as you’re going to find. Tre Tucker over his Cincinnati teammate Tyler Scott was a surprise, as Tucker is verifiably fast with a 1.47s 1-yard split (99th%) and 4.40s 40 (94th%), but he’s also just 5'8.5”, so his upside is limited outside of being a potential plus special teamer. Him, Derius Davis and Demario Douglas are all very similar in their Punt/KR/Slot versatility, which is what got them drafted ahead of some more notable bigger wideouts.

Grade: B

Los Angeles Chargers

San Diego goes for their Vincent Jackson resurrection with Quentin Johnston, the 6'2.6/208 wideout from TCU who ran a 4.51s 40-yard dash with a solid 8.69 RAS. JSN had just been selected the pick beforehand to Seattle, with SD then setting the market by passing on Flowers and Addison, who went immediately thereafter. I mocked Tuipulotu to the Charges in my Day 2 Mock, as I had heard through the SoCal grapevine that the Bolts were enamored with USC DE Tuipulotu, and for good reason. He was named the Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Year two years ago before earning All-American recognition in 2022 with a nation-leading 13.5 sacks to go with a gaudy 22 TFL. Wazzu LB Daiyan Henley (6'1/225) gives SD the athletic LB they desperately needed. He ran a 95th percentile 4.54s 40-yard dash and has had demonstrable success in coverage, holding opponents to a 39.0 NFL Passer Rating when targeted and picking off four passes in 2021. DT Scott Matlock was my favorite player to interview at the Shrine Bowl. I hope his giant curly head of red hair and vibrant, positive demeanor makes Matlock a fan favorite.

Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins hold the line in the wake of losing their first round selection in addition to not having a 4th or 5th. They were very fortunate to land SoCar CB Cam Smith at #51. He broke out in 2021 by holding opponents to just 15 receptions on 32 targets for 184 yards and a sparkling 36.5 passer rating when targeted, while finishing second in the SEC with 11 PBU and earning Second-Team All-SEC recognition. Smith’s play slipped in 2022, going from a lofty 89.7 PFF coverage grade to a middling 64.4 in 2022. He logged 196 snaps in the slot and 356 outside last season, a stark increase in slot duties from the 32 slot reps he played in his breakout 2021 campaign. Texas A&M speedster Devon Achane is an Olympic caliber burner who is small at 5'9/188, but very explosive and could do damage in Miami’s system. Elijah Higgins (6'3/235) is a physical specimen who ran a 1.53s 10-yard split with a 4.54s 40 despite being built like a tight end.

Grade: C

New England Patriots

This may be the most “Patriots Draft” of all “Patriots Drafts”, with New England relentlessly addressing defense and offensive line for their first seven picks, spanning five-rounds. Christian Gonzalez is an unqualified success at 17, I ranked him right there with Devon Witherspoon (5th overall to Atlanta) at the top of the CB board. The All-Pac-12 DB then went out and proved his ridiculous athleticism at the Combine by running a 4.38s 40-yard dash (95th%), 41.5” vert (99th%) and a near-perfect 9.95 RAS. His 32” arms allow him to jam at the line and swat away passes that smaller corners cannot reach. A smooth strider who has a press man profile, Gonzalez is very difficult to stack vertically with his jets but is still flexible enough to stay in phase throughout breaks. Gonzalez’s torso is a little slight which can hinder him in run support, but he really improved this season by posting a rock solid 4.9% missed tackle rate……Monstrous DE Keion White (6'5/285) recorded a 31.3% pass rush win rate with a superb 90.4 PFF pass rush grade in 2019 with Old Dominion, both top-15 marks nationally, before jumping over to Georgia Tech to compete in the P5. His basketball background shows up in his agility and balance, as White has an unnatural fluidity for a 285-pounder. In addition to his super-heavyweight Edge measurements, the former two-star recruit has premium flexibility for a man his size, explodes into contact and works like a berserker to get off blocks. He backed up the tape by dropping a 98th percentile 4.79s 40-yard dash and a scorching 9.92 RAS that left the Yellowjackets defensive leader with few peers in terms of raw, untapped potential…..I was fortunate to scout Marte Mapu at the NFLPA Bowl where he shined in coverage and with his run fits. Multiple interceptions in practice solidified my selection of Mapu as my NFLPA Bowl Defensive MVP. They took three solid interior offensive linemen (Sow is a potential sleeper and Combine riser with a 9.72 RAS) and a kicker before selecting the free-falling LSU WR Kayshon Boutte, who was a legitimate candidate for the top receiver in the class before breaking his ankle in 2021 and never really recapturing the athleticism he showed during his true freshman breakout season. Demario Douglas is a player the Patriots’ staff coached at the Shrine Bowl, with Douglas wearing out the opposing defensive backs in practice sessions thanks to his 4.44s 40-yard dash speed.

Grade: B

New York Jets

A three-time First Team All-Big 12 performer, Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald (6'4/239) channeled his prodigious athleticism into 42.0 career TFL, 10 forced fumbles and an all-time B12 leading 34.0 sacks. All three phases of his testing were elite while his arms measured at an elongated 35” for the third-highest RAS in the 2023 edge class. Despite his verifiable athleticism and production, McDonald’s frame is a bit thin for the position at the NFL level and was considered a late first round-to-mid second round player based on his more traditionally proportioned contemporaries at EDGE……I really liked watching Joe Tippmann‘s tape and despite being abnormally long for the Center position at 6'6/303, he is a very effective mauler in the run game, enveloping his assignment and sealing them off with ease. However his long strides and lack of leg-bend can have him reaching in pass sets and kickouts at times. They picked up the OT they were looking for in Carter Warren, whose massive 84 ½: wingspan helps him engulf opponents. Between Warren and Tippmann, the Jets clearly have a “type” on the offensive line. Abanikanda is a very athletic RB I was hoping to see challenge for playing time in his first season, or at least land somewhere with upward mobility behind an aging veteran. Nope. I guess the Jets weren’t content with their predicament last season after Breece Hall went down. TE Zach Kuntz is a steal in the seventh round having transferred from Penn State to Old Dominion, as he followed his former, OC Ricky Rahne, to his new HC gig. Kuntz finished second nationally in 2021 with 112 targets (#1 = Michael Mayer) and posted a perfect 10.00 RAS, making him the most athletic tight end in Combine history.

Grade: B-

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers gladly accepted the Patriots invitation to move up to the #14 pick and select Georgia LT Broderick Jones. The savvy swap allowed Pittsburgh to get the blindside protector they so desperately wanted, and the Patriots keep Jones away from their division rival Jets who picked at 15 and also were widely connected to Jones, just like the Steelers. Win-Win for both parties. Speaking of wins, the Porter Family Legacy continues unabated in Pittsburgh after trading up to the #32 pick. Porter Jr. literally grew up in their locker room and will step right in as a physical, tone-setting press corner. Capping off an impactful first three selections, Pitt took Wisconsin DT Keanu Benton (6'4/206) at #46. The Senior Bowl standout boosted his stock at every step of the pre-Draft process, also posting an 8.65 RAS at the Combine. He has a great punch that knocks many offensive linemen off their spots while his chops and rips have martial art precision. The biggest problem with Benton is his tendency to play with a high pad level thus losing his anchor. However, with a more penetrating or attacking role, he could use a well-built frame to maximize his potential in a variety of schemes at the next level. Pittsburgh kept identifying the biggest fallers at a respective position and taking them, not overthinking the process and remaining patient. TE Darnell Washington (93) was rumored to be on the first-round bubble, while Nick Herbig (132) should be a force when blitzing the interior from his new off-ball role. Hard to complain with what the Steelers did here.

Grade: A

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee was tied to Skoronski throughout the draft process, which is a good thing for Derrick Henry and QB of the future Will Levis who the Titans traded up to select, effectively ending the Malik Willis era before it began. Skoronski started and ended the 2022 season on the All-American lists, while receiving First Team All-Big Ten honors in his sophomore and junior seasons, and Second Team All-Big Ten honors his freshman season. The Outland Trophy finalist proved his mettle at the Combine by crushing his jumps with a 34.5” vertical (98th%), 9'07” broad (97th%) and a scorching 1.7s 10-yard split (96th%), to combine for an excellent 9.28 RAS. His 32.25” arm length and lack of a stifling punch could lead to the Wildcats’ standout kicking inside to guard…..Levis got the artificial pre-draft boost from an anonymous Reddit poster stating he was going number one overall, but when the markets and the dust settled, sanity prevailed and Will Levis was drafted where his talent dictated he should be. It’s tough to justify the number one overall selection after the unsightly 2022 season Levis posted. Shifty Senior Bowl standout RB Tyjae Spears brings a completely different, and welcomed, element to the Titans’ run game alongside Henry. Cincinnati TE Josh Whyle is another capable receiving tight end to pair with 2022 late-round hit, Chigoziem Okonkwo.

Grade: B