Most-improved, least-improved position groups after the 2023 NFL Draft

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) in the huddle against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, and while we won’t really know until players take the field, it’s interesting to look across the NFL and see which teams have improved positions and units the most, and which teams still have some work to do to avoid major weaknesses in 2023.

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Most Improved

Cincinnati Bengals‘ Defensive Backfield

The Bengals lost both starting safeties in free agency, and while they have some talent at cornerback, it was arguably the weakest position on their defense.

DJ Turner could start for them in year one, and his speed is a major asset in a league getting faster by the day. Along with being a burner, he knows how to prevent receptions, forcing 14 incompletions and allowing just 46.5% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught last season.

Jordan Battle is just a good football player. He’s not a special athlete, but his skills and smarts on the field make him a candidate to start as a rookie if needed too. He played 800-plus snaps and earned a PFF grade of 80.0 or better in each of the past three seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Pass Rush

Calijah Kancey immediately fills a need for the Buccaneers on the defensive interior, even if he’s not a three-down player early in his career. With an elite first step, he’s going to give NFL guards problems right away after posting a 92.4 PFF pass-rushing grade to lead all players on the defensive interior in college in 2022.

YaYa Diaby is another fantastic athlete on the edge, with a 40-yard dash time in the 97th percentile. He’s not just an athlete, though, notching a 16.1% pass-rush win rate on his way to 10 sacks, seven hits and 19 hurries on the season.

They then closed out their draft with Eastern Michigan’s Jose Ramirez, who might be undersized but delivered as a pass-rusher in 2022. He won 21.5% of his pass-rushing attempts last year.

Green Bay Packers‘ Tight Ends

While the Packers didn’t draft Dalton Kincaid in the first round like many expected them to, they did opt to double-dip at the position on Day 2 and added some really talented players. Luke Musgrave played in only two games in 2022 but racked up 11 catches for 169 yards in that span. In a very limited sample size, he averaged a whopping 3.38 yards per route run.

Tucker Kraft dominated the FCS, forcing 25 missed tackles on 102 receptions across the past two seasons. He averaged 2.32 yards per route run in 2022, and 7.7 yards of his 12.9 yards per reception came after the catch.

Least Improved

Las Vegas Raiders‘ Interior Offensive Line

Heading into the draft, Dylan Parham, Andre James and Alex Bars were slated to be the Raiders' starting three interior offensive linemen. The issue here is that they produced PFF grades of 61.9, 62.8 and 45.4, so there was a need for some improvements here.

Parham was a rookie, and while he endured his struggles in pass protection, producing a 48.8 PFF pass-blocking grade, he did have some flashes throughout the year. Bars, on the other hand, has been in the NFL for four seasons, seeing 600-plus snaps in two of those, and has yet to produce a PFF season grade above 53.3.

The Raiders coming out of this draft with zero players on the interior of the offensive line was a major surprise.

New York Jets‘ Offensive Tackles

The Jets were reported to be interested in Georgia’s Broderick Jones before the Pittsburgh Steelers jumped ahead of them on Thursday night and opted to address the interior of the offensive line with the addition of Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann on Day 2.

They made Mekhi Becton the 11th overall selection of the 2020 NFL Draft, but after impressing as a rookie, he has played just 48 snaps over the past two seasons, while backup Duane Brown struggled in relief last season. The Jets drafted Max Mitchell in the fourth round out of Louisiana last year, but he struggled somewhat in five starts. With Aaron Rodgers now under center, there should be some concern about how they will protect him off the edge in 2022.

New York drafted Carter Warren out of Pittsburgh in the fourth round, but his best PFF grade over the past three seasons was 70.7 in 2021, so it’s unlikely that he will immediately contribute.

San Francisco 49ers‘ Cornerbacks

Cornerback was already the weak spot on the 49ers' defense last season, and they actually lost more from the position when Emmanuel Moseley left in free agency this offseason. There were plenty of cornerbacks high on the PFF big board when the 49ers instead opted to draft Michigan kicker Jake Moody and Alabama tight end Cameron Latu in Round 3.

They finally selected Darrell Luter Jr. out of South Alabama in the fifth round, but given the weakness of the position, it’s tough to understand why they prioritized a kicker over a cornerback in the third round.

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