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Investigating position group strengths and weaknesses in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Utah State Aggies offensive lineman Alfred Edwards (72) blocks against Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

  • 2023 NFL Draft is deep with edge rushers: With 13 edge defenders in PFF's top 50, this year's EDGE class could be one of the best in recent memory.
  • Wide receiver has less blue-chip talent: After a couple years of record-breaking wide receiver classes, this year's group isn't as stacked with Round 1 talent.
  • Good year to need a QB: This year's quarterback class appears to be fairly strong when compared with the last eight drafts.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

With the NFL's postseason concluded, the offseason has officially started and draft season is in full swing. As every team tries to improve over the next few months, it’s time to look at the most talented positions in this year’s draft.

Now, we take an initial look at how strong this year’s draft class shapes up to be at each position compared to the last eight years. With more data and information on prospects coming in, we will review this analysis after the NFL Scouting Combine and during the final weeks leading up to the draft.


Overview of positional strength

We will measure each position's strength in a draft class by draft capital allocated to the position. To quantify draft capital, we use our own PFF WAR draft chart. You can find a more detailed explanation in last year’s version of this article.

Concretely, we will compare the draft capital allocated to each position in the last eight drafts to the (projected) draft capital allocated to each position in this year’s draft, assuming that the draft picks are exactly like the positions in PFF's big board. Of course, this will not be the case, but as of now, it’s the natural way to measure the strength of each position in a way that is comparable to the actual drafts from past years.

Here is the overview of offensive positions:

The last three drafts have broken records in terms of how many wide receivers came off the board early — most of which 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, as opposed to last year when six wide receivers went off the board within the first 18 picks.

Another position group that looks much bleaker than last year is the interior offensive line. The 2022 NFL Draft featured three consensus 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 for the defensive positions:

Edge rushers strike out on this chart, which is not surprising given that PFF's big board currently features 13 edge rushers in top 50, including seven in the top 32.

On the other side of the spectrum, linebackers shape up to be a fairly weak position in this year’s draft, as it might be completely void of first-round talent with Daiyan Henley currently being the top-ranked linebacker (No. 38) on PFF's big board.


A deeper look can help make draft decisions

The overview is definitely nice to have, but when a team has the 25th overall pick, it's important to know 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 that would most likely be available when the team is on the clock.

For that reason, we are creating charts that show the available talent for each individual position at each point in the draft and compare it to the last eight drafts' ceiling, floor and average.

We start with the most important position — quarterback.

The chart consists of three lines and a series of points. The blue (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 describes the maximum of quarterbacks taken with the first “X” selections in the last eight drafts and the orange (bottom) line describes the minimum number.

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