NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season

2TDE121 Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (26) reacts after his 12-yard rushing touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

• Jahmyr Gibbs leads all rookies in PFF grade in Week 15: He averaged an astounding 9.1 yards per carry and forced six missed tackles, his most since Week 8.

• Bryce Young puts together his best game of the season: It wasn't always pretty, but Young led the Panthers to a 9-7 win and earned an 86.5 clean pocket grade.

• 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: 12 minutes

After a tough showing in Week 14, the 2023 first-round rookies mostly stepped up their game, many of whom are contributing to potential playoff teams.

We’ll continue to track their progress and principal opponents down the stretch of the NFL regular season.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 51.7 (Rank: 6/6)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: 66
Week 15 Grade: 78.0

Young was pressured on a season-low 28.6% of dropbacks in Week 15. He responded by posting an 86.5 clean pocket grade and played his best game of the year. Young was his best in crunch time and earned a 91.6 passing grade in the fourth quarter. His lone big-time throw was a perfect back-shoulder toss to D.J. Chark that set up the game-winning field goal. It wasn’t pretty, but Young was precise enough to earn his second career victory.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 81.5 (Rank: 1/6)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: 0
Week 15 Grade: N/A

Stroud was inactive this week due to a concussion.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.5 (Rank: 1/13)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: 0
Week 15 Grade: 0

Anderson was inactive this week due to an ankle injury.

Pick No. 4: Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.2 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: 0
Week 15 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: 83.3 (Rank: 1/21)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: N/A
Week 15 Grade: N/A

Witherspoon was inactive on Monday night due to a hip injury.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.8 (Rank: 4/7)
Principal Opponent: Nick Bosa
Week 15 Snaps: 74
Week 15 Grade: 60.8

Johnson created somewhat of a statistical anomaly, earning identical 60.8 grades in both of his games against San Francisco. Facing Nick Bosa is never easy, and Johnson allowed three of his four pressures, including a strip sack, to him. Johnson has now surrendered 39 pressures this season — tied for the 12th most among all offensive linemen.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 46.4 (Rank: 12/13)
Principal Opponent: Trey Pipkins III
Week 15 Snaps: 45
Week 15 Grade: 63.4

Wilson was given extended playing time during the Raiders’ blowout of Los Angeles, and he performed reasonably well. He hurried Easton Stick on two occasions, one on a bull rush lined up over the center and one where he beat Jermaine Eluemunor on the outside. He made a run stop, as well, but should’ve made two more, as he missed two tackles on running back Isaiah Spiller.

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Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.6 (Rank: 7/8)
Principal Opponent: Jaycee Horn
Week 15 Snaps: 30
Week 15 Grade: 38.0

Robinson was seemingly excluded from Atlanta’s game plan early in Week 15 and then demoted from it late after a lost fumble. He finished the day with just eight touches for 13 total yards and posted a season-low 38.0 overall grade. Offensive line injuries are sinking Atlanta’s offense. Meanwhile, Robinson has gained just 97 rushing yards on his past 35 carries.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 83.8 (Rank: 1/12)
Principal Opponent: Damien Lewis
Week 15 Snaps: 27
Week 15 Grade: 82.2

With the Eagles up by seven points in the fourth quarter, Carter easily shed his block for a third-down sack — his highest-graded play of the night. The standout interior defender is now up to 42 pressures this season and ranks fifth in pass-rush win rate (17.4%) at the position.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.5 (Rank: 2/7)
Principal Opponent: Za’Darius Smith
Week 15 Snaps: 72
Week 15 Grade: 63.3

Wright held his own against a tough Cleveland defense. He showed off his power and zone-blocking prowess en route to a 70.1 run-blocking grade, his highest since Week 5. He also broke his streak of three consecutive games with a penalty. The Bears didn’t play well down the stretch against the Browns, but Wright was their highest-graded offensive lineman in the second half.

Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.3 (Rank: 1/13)
Principal Opponent: Maliek Collins
Week 15 Snaps: 61
Week 15 Grade: 50.6

Skoronski struggled in both blocking facets in Week 15. He allowed just two pressures, but they were big mistakes. He was charged with a hurry when he missed a stunt pickup and then was thrown to the side by Maliek Collins for a crucial sack late in the fourth quarter. He also earned a negative grade on eight of his 26 run-blocking snaps. Skoronski has posted a sub-55.0 grade in three of the past four weeks.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.8 (Rank: 3/8)
Principal Opponent: P.J. Locke
Week 15 Snaps: 32
Week 15 Grade: 88.8

Gibbs was spectacular against Denver and finished Week 15 with the highest grade of any offensive rookie. He averaged an astounding 9.1 yards per carry and forced six missed tackles, his most since Week 8. Gibbs is generally considered an explosive player in space, but he is excelling between the tackles. Sixty-five of his 100 rushing yards came between the tackles, and he owns the sixth-best rushing grade in the NFL on such runs.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 63.6 (Rank: 4/13)
Principal Opponent: Tristan Wirfs
Week 15 Snaps: 26
Week 15 Grade: 68.3

Van Ness produced a second consecutive solid game, as he compiled three tackles, two stops and his third career sack. His best work came in run support, where he generally did a nice job setting the edge and taking on pulling guards. His 67.4 run-defense grade led all Packers defensive linemen. Van Ness isn't the flashiest player, but he has done a nice job of playing fundamentally sound football as of late.

Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.8 (Rank: 3/7)
Principal Opponent: Kwity Paye
Week 15 Snaps: 58
Week 15 Grade: 38.7

It was not a banner week for Jones and the Steelers’ offensive line. Jones officially allowed two sacks to Dayo Odeyingbo and let up another that was negated by a penalty. In total, Jones surrendered five pressures and lost four other pass-rush reps. He finished the day with a 19.3 pass-blocking grade. As a team, Pittsburgh posted a 15.6 pass-blocking grade — the worst mark in any game by any team this season. The struggles of Jones and his offensive line teammates may have sunk Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 68.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Austin Jackson
Week 15 Snaps: 18
Week 15 Grade: 62.0

McDonald won two of his six pass-rush reps, one resulting in a third-down sack of Tua Tagovailoa early in the second quarter. He owns a solid 76.4 pass-rush grade since Week 8 but has still not played 20 snaps in any game this season. New York’s postseason hopes are gone, and with Bryce Huff set to be a free agent, the team may want to see if McDonald is capable of filling that void.

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.5 (Rank: 15/21)
Principal Opponent: Demarcus Robinson
Week 15 Snaps: 6
Week 15 Grade: 64.9

Forbes played just six coverage snaps, all on third down, and was not targeted. For now, he has been relegated to Washington’s dime package and is playing only in obvious passing situations.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 2/21)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 15 Snaps: 0
Week 15 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: 53.8 (Rank: 3/5)
Principal Opponent: Lucas Krull
Week 15 Snaps: 33
Week 15 Grade: 58.5

Campbell’s best work against Denver came in run support, as he racked up three tackles and two stops. He continues to look increasingly comfortable attacking downhill and has posted a 76.4 run-defense grade over the past six weeks. Detroit is also decreasing his exposure in coverage. Campbell tied a season-low with 10 coverage snaps in Week 15 despite the team being ahead for the majority of the game.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.3 (Rank: 10/12)
Principal Opponent: Elgton Jenkins
Week 15 Snaps: 35
Week 15 Grade: 60.5

Kancey generated two pressures, including a hit, and two other pass-rush wins against Green Bay. All of those plays came with Tampa Bay leading in the second half, an ideal time for Kancey to make an impact with his pass-rushing prowess. Kancey’s contributions have helped the Buccaneers rank in the top three in pressures and sacks by rookies this season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.1 (Rank: 11/16)
Principal Opponent: James Bradberry
Week 15 Snaps: 42
Week 15 Grade: 73.3

Smith-Njigba was on the end of Monday Night Football's biggest play, a game-winning dart from quarterback Drew Lock. He earned a season-high 73.3 game grade and is the fifth-highest-graded rookie receiver in the NFL over the past three weeks.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.6 (Rank: 13/16)
Principal Opponent: Amik Robertson
Week 15 Snaps: 60
Week 15 Grade: 61.7

It stands to reason that with Keenan Allen out, Johnston would earn a heavier target share and a chance to shine. Johnston was targeted just three times, though, catching two of them. He did manage to score his second career touchdown, albeit with his team down 49 points. Johnston’s 31 catches and 356 yards are both the third fewest of any wide receiver with at least 50 targets.

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 73.2 (Rank: 6/16)
Principal Opponent: Montaric Brown
Week 15 Snaps: 59
Week 15 Grade: 52.7

Flowers was bottled up on Sunday Night Football, catching just one ball for seven yards. Jacksonville used a variety of zone coverages to contain Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. In response, Baltimore targeted Isaiah Likely and Rashod Bateman on nearly 60% of pass attempts. Flowers will see more opportunities in future weeks, and he will likely benefit from some of the Ravens' ancillary receiving threats continuing to produce.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.8 (Rank: 7/16)
Principal Opponent: DJ Turner II
Week 15 Snaps: 62
Week 15 Grade: 85.1

Addison was Minnesota’s best player in Week 15. He caught all six of his targets, picking up 111 yards, three first downs and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns were fantastic plays despite questionable decision-making by quarterback Nick Mullens. His feel for zone coverage is excellent. Addison has caught more than 77% of his targets against zone coverage — a top-20 mark at the position. This performance gives him a legitimate chance at a 1000-yard rookie season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 50.1 (Rank: 19/21)
Principal Opponent: Rashid Shaheed
Week 15 Snaps: 61
Week 15 Grade: 51.1

Banks allowed two Rashid Shaheed catches for 30 yards. He also missed a tackle in coverage. Banks still seems more comfortable as of late with the Giants having gotten away from their heavy press-man tendencies. The missed tackle was his only egregious mistake, but he hasn’t made plays on the ball lately. He has just one pass breakup over his past five games.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.2 (Rank: 2/4)
Principal Opponent: Markquese Bell
Week 15 Snaps: 33
Week 15 Grade: 47.3

For the first time this year, Kincaid was held without a catch. He dropped one of his two targets, while the other was thrown too far in front of him by Josh Allen. It was a run-heavy day for the Bills. That normally wouldn’t suit Kincaid’s skill set, but he produced a 71.6 run-blocking grade — his second best of the season. The Bills are finding balance on offense, and Kincaid is evidently capable of contributing in all facets of the game.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.3 (Rank: 9/12)
Principal Opponent: Connor McGovern
Week 15 Snaps: 31
Week 15 Grade: 70.4

Smith played only eight pass-rush snaps against Buffalo, but he dominated on his way to an 88.8 pass-rush grade. Smith won half of those eight reps and collected a sack and a hurry. Smith’s speed is a real asset inside, but he was overpowered early in the run game and compiled just a 57.6 run-defense grade. Dallas struggled mightily in run defense, but the team needs Smith to be better in Johnathan Hankins‘ absence.

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.5 (Rank: 5/7)
Principal Opponent: Jadeveon Clowney
Week 15 Snaps: 62
Week 15 Grade: 51.1

Harrison allowed three pressures and was beaten on six other pass-blocking reps in what was another rough night for Jacksonville’s offensive line. Amazingly, his 54.1 pass-blocking grade ranked second among the Jaguars' starting offensive linemen. He also struggled to a 45.7 run-blocking grade and allowed a tackle for loss to Brent Urban. Jacksonville’s offensive line now ranks ahead of only the Jets and Giants in overall grade.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 58.5 (Rank: 8/13)
Principal Opponent: Christian Darrisaw
Week 15 Snaps: 27
Week 15 Grade: 74.1

Murphy played his best game as a pro in Week 15. He turned the corner on Christian Darrisaw to pick up his third career sack, but his best work came in run support. Murphy finished the day with a season-high 70.8 run-defense grade. He did not earn a negative grade on any of his 13 run-defense snaps.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 47.7 (Rank: 11/12)
Principal Opponent: Ben Bredeson
Week 15 Snaps: 37
Week 15 Grade: 61.2

Bresee notched the first multi-sack game of his career, twice taking advantage of miscommunication on the Giants’ offensive line to take down Tommy DeVito. He also recorded two hurries from the inside, one of which forced DeVito into another sack. Bresee has 11 pressures over the lpst two weeks and now ranks third on his team in pressures and sacks.

Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.0 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Charles Cross
Week 15 Snaps: 9
Week 15 Grade: 80.5

Smith earned his highest game grade of the season after tallying a quarterback hit and two stops on just nine snaps. The Eagles continue to use him sparingly, but he appears to be improving, having recorded four of his six quarterback pressures and three of his six stops this season over the past four weeks.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.8 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Conor McDermott
Week 15 Snaps: 5
Week 15 Grade: 66.3

Anudike-Uzomah played just five snaps but managed to hit Bailey Zappe on one occasion. That hit forced an errant throw that should’ve been intercepted by L’Jarius Sneed.


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