NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season

2T9Y1JC Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter (98) in action against Buffalo Bills tackle Dion Dawkins (73) during the NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

• Jack Campbell posts a career-high grade on Thanksgiving: He earned a 74.4 overall grade, buoyed by a 71.0 coverage grade. It was the first time this season that he looked consistently comfortable in coverage.

• Jalen Carter stuffs the stat sheet again: His overall grade was dragged down by two missed tackles, but he racked up five hurries, two run stops and a blocked field goal.

• It's never too early to gear up for the 2024 NFL Draft: PFF has you covered throughout the college football season. Click here for our 2024 big board.

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

The Houston Texans’ rookie class continues to be special, while several other playoff contenders got big-time contributions from their first-year players, as well, in Week 12.

As the NFL playoff race heats up, we’ll continue to track every first-rounder’s progress and identify their principal opponents.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.2 (Rank: 6/7)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 12 Snaps: 74
Week 12 Grade: 62.7

The positives are few and far between for Young at this point. His lone big-time throw this week was an excellent Cover 2 hole shot. He also picked up two first downs with his legs. Young made some nice plays on the move, although Arden Key stripped him of the ball as he rolled out of the pocket. The Titans went on to score two plays later. The Panthers don't have the weapons to work from behind, and they also now have an interim head coach. It’s tough to say Young’s rookie year hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster.

Pick No. 2: Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud

Overall Rookie Grade: 86.3 (Rank: 1/7)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 12 Snaps: 60
Week 12 Grade: 85.8

Considering Stroud was pressured on nearly 61% of his dropbacks in Week 12, he had a fantastic day. He discovered an ability to make throws on the move in last year’s national semifinal against Georgia, and it appears to be here to stay. Stroud posted a 77.4 passing grade this week when moved off his spot. Only Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes have been better this season in such situations. There simply aren’t many holes in Stroud’s game right now.

Pick No. 3: Houston Texans: Edge Will Anderson Jr.

Overall Rookie Grade: 77.8 (Rank: 1/14)
Principal Opponent: Anton Harrison
Week 12 Snaps: 52
Week 12 Grade: 68.8

Anderson pressured Trevor Lawrence only once but made up for that lack of production with an excellent day in run defense. His three run stops contributed to a career-best 81.2 run-defense grade. Offensive tackles, tight ends and even pulling guards stood no chance against Anderson’s quickness. His season-long 81.4 run-defense grade now ranks sixth among qualified edge defenders.

Pick No. 4: Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.2 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 12 Snaps: 0
Week 12 Grade: N/A

Richardson suffered a shoulder injury in Week 5 and is out for the season.

Pick No. 5: Seattle Seahawks: CB Devon Witherspoon

Overall Rookie Grade: 85.5 (Rank: 1/19)
Principal Opponent: Brandon Aiyuk
Week 12 Snaps: 66
Week 12 Grade: 71.7

Witherspoon stuffed the stat sheet again, this time with five tackles, two stops, a pass breakup and a team-leading 76.0 run-defense grade. His biggest blemish came when he allowed a 28-yard touchdown on a post route from Brandon Aiyuk. Despite that mistake, Witherspoon still ranks in the top five in overall grade and pass breakups among all cornerbacks. The Defensive Rookie of the Year race between him and Jalen Carter will be fascinating to watch down the stretch.

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Pick No. 6: Arizona Cardinals: OT Paris Johnson Jr.

Overall Rookie Grade: 54.5 (Rank: 5/6)
Principal Opponent: Michael Hoecht
Week 12 Snaps: 71
Week 12 Grade: 73.7

Johnson had his best day as a pro against the Rams. His 68.7 run-blocking grade was a career high, and while he did allow two sacks, they were both at least partially a product of Kyler Murray holding the ball too long. Johnson’s two best games have come within the past three weeks, coinciding with Murray’s return, and he’s beginning to play like a borderline top-30 tackle.

Pick No. 7: Las Vegas Raiders: Edge Tyree Wilson

Overall Rookie Grade: 42.2 (Rank: 14/14)
Principal Opponent: Donovan Smith
Week 12 Snaps: 28
Week 12 Grade: 58.5

Wilson made a nice run stop late in the fourth quarter on Isiah Pacheco but was otherwise quiet on his 28 snaps. The contrast between his team-low 51.6 pass-rush grade and Malcolm Koonce’s team-best 83.9 mark doesn’t bode well for Wilson’s future opportunities.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 66.4 (Rank: 6/6)
Principal Opponent: Demario Davis
Week 12 Snaps: 39
Week 12 Grade: 68.4

Robinson’s overall grade this week is damaged by two drops, though one wasn’t the best-thrown ball on a circle route. Nevertheless, Robinson is beginning to look more comfortable in Atlanta’s scheme and posted his highest rushing grade (75.9) since Week 2. He also sealed the win by beating Demario Davis on a wheel route and hauling in a gorgeous throw from Desmond Ridder for a 26-yard touchdown. Robinson is now the workhorse in this offense, and the Falcons will look to ride him and an underrated defense to a division title.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 90.3 (Rank: 1/12)
Principal Opponent: O’Cyrus Torrence
Week 12 Snaps: 76
Week 12 Grade: 75.2

Carter continues to do incredible things. His 76 snaps played against Buffalo were 12 more than any other defensive tackle through Sunday. His overall grade was dragged down by two missed tackles, but he racked up five hurries, two run stops and a blocked field goal. Carter lined up at nearly every spot on the defensive line in Week 12, making it even harder to scheme up protections against him. He currently sits behind only Dexter Lawrence in overall grade at his position.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.7 (Rank: 3/6)
Principal Opponent: Jonathan Bullard
Week 12 Snaps: 68
Week 12 Grade: 59.2

Wright played 43 pass-blocking snaps on Monday Night Football — his most in a game since Week 1. He let up three hurries on his way to a 63.7 PFF pass-blocking grade. Wright owns the highest run-blocking grade and the second-highest pass-blocking grade among qualifying rookie offensive tackles.

Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.2 (Rank: 5/11)
Principal Opponent: DeShawn Williams
Week 12 Snaps: 53
Week 12 Grade: 53.5

Skoronski was spectacular in pass protection for the second straight week, posting an 86.7 pass-blocking grade that ranked third among all guards through Sunday. Conversely, his 43.6 run-blocking grade was the fourth worst through Sunday, as he struggled to keep defenders off running back Derrick Henry on multiple occasions.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 73.4 (Rank: 3/6)
Principal Opponent: Quay Walker
Week 12 Snaps: 60
Week 12 Grade: 60.6

Week 12 was a quieter one for Gibbs, who racked up 73 yards on 15 total touches. Nearly half of his 54 rushing yards came on a toss sweep to start the third quarter. The Packers did an excellent job of cutting off angles for Gibbs to exploit after the catch, resulting in his lowest receiving output since Week 4. He’ll face a similar challenge next week against Demario Davis and the Saints.

Pick No. 13: Green Bay Packers: EDGE Lukas Van Ness

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.8 (Rank: 6/14)
Principal Opponent: Taylor Decker
Week 12 Snaps: 29
Week 12 Grade: 56.2

Van Ness had a decent day against Green Bay, racking up two pressures in the passing game and making a big stop on Detroit’s fake punt attempt in the third quarter. He was moved a couple of times in the run game, but his biggest mistake was a penalty drawn after a two-point attempt. Green Bay continues to provide Van Ness with snaps, and he continues to reward them with relatively average play.

Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 63.4 (Rank: 2/6)
Principal Opponent: Sam Hubbard
Week 12 Snaps: 71
Week 12 Grade: 63.5

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but since Jones was inserted as Pittsburgh’s starting right tackle in Week 9, the team’s offensive line ranks 15th in overall grade. Prior to that, the unit ranked 27th. Jones was solid, if unspectacular, in Cincinnati in Week 12. He struggled in pass protection, allowing a team-high four pressures while losing four other reps. He did, however, make multiple nice blocks in the run game on a day when Pittsburgh racked up 154 yards on the ground. Play calling has been the popular subject lately in Pittsburgh, but it may actually be Jones making a big difference in their offensive production.

Pick No. 15: New York Jets: Edge Will McDonald IV

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.1 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Austin Jackson
Week 12 Snaps: 14
Week 12 Grade: 60.2

McDonald’s cameo this week included a couple of tackles in the run game, one of which was a stop for no gain where he blew past Terron Armstead’s inside shoulder to make a play on Raheem Mostert. He came away empty-handed on four pass-rush opportunities. At this point, with the Jets' postseason hopes just about gone, it doesn’t make much sense for McDonald to be playing as little as he does.

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.9 (Rank: 14/19)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 12 Snaps: 0
Week 12 Grade: N/A

Forbes did not play in Week 12 due to an elbow injury.

Pick No. 17: New England Patriots: CB Christian Gonzalez

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 2/19)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 12 Snaps: 0
Week 12 Grade: N/A

Gonzalez suffered a torn labrum in Week 4 and is likely out for the season.

Pick No. 18: Detroit Lions: LB Jack Campbell

Overall Rookie Grade: 48.6 (Rank: 3/4)
Principal Opponent: A.J. Dillon
Week 12 Snaps: 31
Week 12 Grade: 74.4

Detroit had plenty of defensive issues on Thanksgiving, but Campbell wasn’t one of them. He posted a career-high 74.4 overall grade, buoyed by a 71.0 coverage grade. Campbell allowed just one A.J. Dillon reception for five yards. It was the first time this season that he looked consistently comfortable in coverage. He also made a run stop to continue his solid work in that facet. Campbell’s improvement would be a huge boon to a linebacker unit that currently ranks 23rd in overall grade.

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Pick No. 19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DI Calijah Kancey

Overall Rookie Grade: 54.2 (Rank: 9/12)
Principal Opponent: Will Fries
Week 12 Snaps: 46
Week 12 Grade: 63.2

Kancey had another fine day rushing the passer, picking up a team-high four pressures and his third career sack. His sack was impressive, as he used his strength to walk Will Fries back into Gardner Minshew. He also batted a pass away as he chased Gardner Minshew outside of the pocket. As he continues to carry a bottom-five run-defense grade, Kancey remains a one-dimensional player. That dimension is quite impressive, though; he ranks third on his team in pressures despite missing three games.

Pick No. 20: Seattle Seahawks: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Overall Rookie Grade: 62.7 (Rank: 12/15)
Principal Opponent: Ambry Thomas
Week 12 Snaps: 42
Week 12 Grade: 68.1

Smith-Njigba didn’t get much volume on Thanksgiving night, but he made a spectacular one-handed catch while adjusting to a Geno Smith throw to pick up 34 yards. That reception was nearly the catalyst for a Seattle comeback, but the drive later stalled. Smith still trusts D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at a far greater level than Smith-Njigba, so the opportunities will likely continue to be few and far between.

Pick No. 21: Los Angeles Chargers: WR Quentin Johnston

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.2 (Rank: 13/15)
Principal Opponent: Ronald Darby
Week 12 Snaps: 29
Week 12 Grade: 53.2

Johnston caught just one pass for seven yards against Baltimore in the midst of what has become a nightmarish rookie season. Johnston has eclipsed 35 yards in a game just once and has one touchdown this season. His 0.72 yards per route run figure is the lowest among qualified rookie receivers and the fourth lowest in the NFL.

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 74.9 (Rank: 5/15)
Principal Opponent: Deane Leonard
Week 12 Snaps: 67
Week 12 Grade: 76.8

Flowers was the star of the show on Sunday night. He beat Deane Leonard on a nasty slant in the endzone for Lamar Jackson’s only touchdown pass of the night. Late in the fourth quarter, Flowers displayed his blazing speed, taking a jet sweep 37 yards to the house to seal the win for Baltimore. Flowers forced two more missed tackles as a receiver against the Chargers, bringing his total to 14. That mark leads all rookie receivers and ties him for the fourth most among all wide receivers.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 69.5 (Rank: 10/15)
Principal Opponent: Terell Smith
Week 12 Snaps: 53
Week 12 Grade: 52.7

Unfortunate circumstances disrupted any chance of Addison shining on Monday Night Football against the Bears. He was on his way to a sure-fire 52-yard touchdown grab, but Josh Dobbs' pass led him out of bounds. On another play, he appeared to wrestle a catch away from two Bears defenders, but it was ruled incomplete. He also dropped a pass that resulted in an interception. In all, Addison finished with just 39 receiving yards on 10 targets.

Pick No. 24: New York Giants: CB Deonte Banks

Overall Rookie Grade: 48.5 (Rank: 18/19)
Principal Opponent: Tyquan Thornton
Week 12 Snaps: 68
Week 12 Grade: 62.3

Banks hauled in his second interception of the season, dragging his feet near the sideline to catch a Mac Jones overthrow. In total, he allowed three catches for 29 yards, but all three were essentially screen passes caught at the line of scrimmage while Banks was in off coverage. The Giants have decreased their press coverage over the past two weeks, and Banks has responded with consecutive positive efforts.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.9 (Rank: 2/4)
Principal Opponent: Kevin Byard
Week 12 Snaps: 58
Week 12 Grade: 60.3

Kincaid picked up five more receptions against Philadelphia, his sixth consecutive game with at least five catches. He has now passed Sam LaPorta for the lead in receptions among rookie tight ends. His day could’ve been better had he not dropped a slightly high, but certainly catchable, pass on a corner route. Nevertheless, Kincaid’s increased presence in Buffalo’s offense is welcomed, as they’ve scored 30-plus points in consecutive weeks for the first time since Week 4.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.7 (Rank: 10/12)
Principal Opponent: Chris Paul
Week 12 Snaps: 20
Week 12 Grade: 49.6

Smith played just eight snaps in run defense against Washington but graded negatively on three of them. He still has a hard time shedding blocks once offensive linemen get their hands on him. He did work to collect a couple of pressures on Sam Howell. This was his second consecutive game with multiple pressures.

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.1 (Rank: 4/6)
Principal Opponent: Will Anderson Jr.
Week 12 Snaps: 76
Week 12 Grade: 57.1

Though Harrison struggled a bit in the running game, he generally got the better of Will Anderson Jr. in pass protection. Harrison didn’t allow a single pressure in Week 12. Two of his three pass-rush losses came on failed stunt pickups, as opposed to being beaten physically. Harrison’s production will continue to be in the spotlight, as left tackle Cam Robinson will miss several weeks with an injury.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.3 (Rank: 8/14)
Principal Opponent: Dan Moore Jr.
Week 12 Snaps: 22
Week 12 Grade: 72.7

Murphy picked up his second career sack and a team-best 86.1 pass-rush grade against the Steelers. Despite rushing Kenny Pickett just nine times, he collected three pressures and another pass-rush win. His outside move was a problem for both Pittsburgh tackles, and he showed better leverage than in prior weeks. With the Bengals’ playoff hopes likely evaporated, Murphy’s improvement will be a key story to watch during the final six weeks.

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Pick No. 29: New Orleans Saints: DI Bryan Bresee

Overall Rookie Grade: 45.5 (Rank: 11/12)
Principal Opponent: Matthew Bergeron
Week 12 Snaps: 27
Week 12 Grade: 29.0

Atlanta’s run game was a nightmare for Bresee and the Saints' entire defensive line. Bresee posted a season-low 27.4 run-defense grade and graded negatively on eight of his 14 run-defense snaps. Atlanta guards Chris Lindstrom and Matthew Bergeron repeatedly overpowered Bresee, and they paved the way for the Falcons’ 228 rushing yards. The rookie also hasn’t recorded any pressure in his past three games.

Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.9 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Dion Dawkins
Week 12 Snaps: 11
Week 12 Grade: 73.9

Smith played a season-high 11 snaps against Buffalo and twice beat Dion Dawkins to flush Josh Allen from the pocket. He also set a nice edge on two of his four run snaps to earn positive grades. It’s been tough for Smith to find work in a deep Eagles front, but incremental development like he flashed in Week 12 has him heading in the right direction.

Pick No. 31: Kansas City Chiefs: Edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Kolton Miller
Week 12 Snaps: 3
Week 12 Grade: 39.6

Anudike-Uzomah played just three snaps in Las Vegas in Week 12. On his most notable repetition, he lost his gap against an outside-zone play. Josh Jacobs shot through that gap for a 68-yard touchdown, and Anudike-Uzomah’s day was effectively over.


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