• The 2023 quarterback class is fairly strong: There is a quarterback worthy of the first overall pick and several other quarterbacks who possess top-10 and even top-five talent.
• Not much promise at linebacker: This year’s class might be completely devoid of first-round talent — Iowa's Jack Campbell and Arkansas' Drew Sanders are currently the only linebackers projected to be fringe first-round picks.
• All eyes on edge defender: We currently have 14 edge rushers in the top 64 of our big board. Over the previous eight drafts, the record for most edge defenders taken in the first two rounds is 12.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Earlier in the offseason, PFF looked into the talent at each position group in the 2023 NFL Draft, highlighting the strong edge and tight end classes and the weak wide receiver and linebacker classes.
For this iteration, we are partnering with Benjamin Robinson‘s GrindingTheMocks.com to use consensus mock draft data to learn more about this year’s prospects. This data not only helps us investigate the talent at each position but also fuels the computer-simulated picks for PFF's mock draft simulator.
Overview of positional strength
We measure the strength of each position in a given draft class by the draft capital allocated to the position. To quantify draft capital, we use the PFF WAR draft chart. You can find a more detailed explanation in last year’s version of this article.
We then compare the draft capital allocated to each position over the last eight drafts to the capital projected to be allocated to each position in 2023.
The allocation may change come draft time, but it's currently the natural way to measure each position's strength in a way comparable to the actual drafts from past years.
Here is an overview of the offensive positions.
The last three drafts have been record-breaking in terms of the number of highly drafted wide receivers, and most of those pass-catchers haven’t disappointed in the NFL.
This year might be different, as we are currently looking at a class with only five or six top-50 prospects, in stark contrast to a 2022 class that produced six wide receivers who were drafted within the first 18 picks.
Another position group that looks much bleaker than last year is interior offensive line. The 2022 draft featured three consensus blue-chip first-round talents in Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson. This year, O’Cyrus Torrence is currently the only borderline first-round talent.
We proceed with the overview of the defensive positions:
Edge rushers stand out on this chart, which is unsurprising, given that our big board currently features 13 edge rushers in the top 50 and seven in the top 32.
On the other end of the spectrum, linebacker shapes up to be a fairly weak position in this year’s draft, as it might be completely devoid of first-round talent — Iowa's Jack Campbell and Arkansas' Drew Sanders are currently the only linebackers who are projected to be fringe first-round picks.
A deeper look can help teams make the right draft decisions
The overview is definitely nice to have, but when a team has the 25th overall pick, they need to have a concrete idea of whether a certain position is strong because there is a lot of top-15 talent and a deep Day 2 or whether the position is strong because of several late first-round prospects who would most likely be available when the team is on the clock.
For that reason, we have created charts that show the available talent at each position at each point in the draft. The charts compare that talent to the ceiling, floor and average of the last eight drafts.
We start with the most important position — quarterback.
The chart consists of three lines and two series of points.
The blue (the middle line) describes how many quarterbacks have been taken on average with the first X selections in the last eight drafts. The green (top line) line describes the maximum number of quarterbacks taken with the first X selections in the last eight drafts, and the orange (bottom line) line describes the minimum number.
For example, the maximum number of quarterbacks taken with the first 15 picks is five, which occurred two years ago with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones all coming off the board early.
On average, there have been between three and four quarterback selections in the first round.
Basically, the three lines give us a mean expectation and a range for how many players at a given position are taken through X selections. The points show us the number of players at the position through rank X of the 2023 big board.
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In the above chart, the yellow points describe the board ranks of the quarterbacks on the PFF big board, and the purple line describes the board ranks of quarterbacks on the GrindingTheMocks consensus big board.
Loosely speaking, we can spot a weak class by looking at points below the average line, and we can spot a strong class by points above the average line.
This means we have a fairly strong quarterback class this year, with a quarterback worthy of the first overall pick and several other quarterbacks with top-10 and even top-five talent. However, we can also see that there is very little Day 2 talent, so finding the next Jalen Hurts could prove to be difficult.