NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 16 of the 2023 NFL season

2W961F5 Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young waits to plays in an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

• Bryce Young strings together solid efforts: Week 16 was another positive for the first overall pick, as he earned a season-high 82.0 overall grade — albeit in a loss.

• Bijan Robinson turns touches into production: After garnering just eight touches last week, Robinson got 19 this week and forced 12 missed tackles in the process.

• 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

No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young engineered his best performance to date, the highlight of the first-round rookies in Week 16 of the 2023 NFL season.

We’ll continue to track each first-rounder's progress and principal opponents down the stretch of the regular season.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.6 (Rank: 6/6)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 16 Snaps: 66
Week 16 Grade: 82.0

For the second straight week, Young saved his best for last. He just narrowly missed his second consecutive victory but tallied 300 passing yards for the first time in his career. It was also his first game with three big-time throws. Young posted a 97.6 overall grade in the fourth quarter against Green Bay, which stands as the second-best quarter by any quarterback this year. Despite all the turmoil around him, it’s encouraging to see Young put forth back-to-back productive efforts.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 81.5 (Rank: 1/6)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 16 Snaps: 0
Week 16 Grade: N/A

Stroud was inactive in Week 16 due to a concussion.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.5 (Rank: 1/14)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 16 Snaps: 0
Week 16 Grade: N/A

Anderson was inactive in Week 16 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 16 Snaps: 0
Week 16 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: 83.4 (Rank: 1/22)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 16 Snaps: 0
Week 16 Grade: N/A

Witherspoon was inactive in Week 16 due to a hip pointer.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.5 (Rank: 4/8)
Principal Opponent: Montez Sweat
Week 16 Snaps: 62
Week 16 Grade: 72.4

Johnson had his best day of the year as a run blocker, posting a 75.1 grade in that regard. His second-level block on T.J. Edwards set up James Conner’s longest run of the day. Johnson is also more consistently sealing backside defenders than he was earlier in the year. This was his third consecutive week without a penalty after committing at least one in eight of his first 12 games.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 47.1 (Rank: 13/14)
Principal Opponent: Trey Smith
Week 16 Snaps: 43
Week 16 Grade: 58.0

Wilson logged 40-plus snaps for the second straight week, recording a season-high five quarterback pressures in the process. All five were hurries, though, and a missed tackle hurt his overall grade.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 69.8 (Rank: 7/9)
Principal Opponent: E.J. Speed
Week 16 Snaps: 48
Week 16 Grade: 76.8

Robinson was a dual-threat nightmare for Indianapolis. After garnering just eight touches last week, Robinson got 19 this week and forced 12 missed tackles in the process. He led the Falcons in rushing and receiving, while his 86.8 rushing grade led all running backs through Sunday. It’s becoming clear that Robinson is the engine of Atlanta’s offense.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 85.2 (Rank: 1/12)
Principal Opponent: John Michael Schmitz Jr.
Week 16 Snaps: 20
Week 16 Grade: 64.7

Carter was kept off the stat sheet as a pass rusher for just the second time this season. However, he made up for it with two positive grades on only six run-defense snaps.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.4 (Rank: 3/8)
Principal Opponent: Zaven Collins
Week 16 Snaps: 70
Week 16 Grade: 54.6

Wright struggled mightily versus Arizona in pass protection. He allowed a game-high five pressures and lost four other reps. He was beaten to the inside on nearly all of those reps, a sign that he may be oversetting to the speed rush. In total, he posted a 38.1 pass-blocking grade — his second-lowest mark of the season.

Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.0 (Rank: 2/12)
Principal Opponent: Leonard Williams
Week 16 Snaps: 66
Week 16 Grade: 59.0

Skoronski rebounded against Seattle with a 69.9 pass-blocking grade after two consecutive tough outings. He allowed just two pressures on 37 pass-blocking snaps, though one of them was a sack to Mario Edwards Jr. Skoronski has struggled in the run game lately, and Sunday was no exception. This week was his third straight game with a sub-55.0 run-blocking grade.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.9 (Rank: 3/9)
Principal Opponent: Josh Metellus
Week 16 Snaps: 46
Week 16 Grade: 65.0

Outside of two errors, a drop and a fumble, Gibbs had a solid day against Minnesota. He gained 100 total yards and had his second consecutive multi-touchdown outing. While he is still splitting carries with David Montgomery, Gibbs has turned into one of the most efficient backs in the league. His 5.7 yards per attempt leads all players with at least 100 carries. He is also forcing missed tackles at a top-12 rate after tallying seven against Minnesota.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.0 (Rank: 4/14)
Principal Opponent: Ikem Ekwonu
Week 16 Snaps: 20
Week 16 Grade: 71.0

Van Ness posted the second-highest grade of any Packers defender in Week 16. He generated two hits on Bryce Young as well as one run stop among his 20 snaps. One of those hits forced an errant throw from Young. Van Ness also held his own on the edge in run defense for the third consecutive week. He owns a 74.1 run-defense grade over the past three weeks. That is the second-best mark of any Packers defender in that span.

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Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.6 (Rank: 2/8)
Principal Opponent: Sam Hubbard
Week 16 Snaps: 59
Week 16 Grade: 59.6

Jones struggled in pass protection for the second consecutive week. While he allowed just two pressures, he was beaten on three other occasions and posted a 32.0 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets. Since he moved to right tackle in Week 8, Jones carries a 38.5 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets, a bottom-10 mark among qualified tackles.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Cornelius Lucas
Week 16 Snaps: 13
Week 16 Grade: 74.5

McDonald posted his best overall grade since Week 11. This week was also his first with multiple pressures since then. He twice flushed Washington’s quarterbacks from the pocket and continued to show that he is a legitimate NFL pass rusher. On an admittedly small sample size, McDonald trails only Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. in pass-rush win rate among all rookie defensive linemen (minimum of 25 snaps).

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.7 (Rank: 15/22)
Principal Opponent: Garrett Wilson
Week 16 Snaps: 29
Week 16 Grade: 70.2

Forbes played well against New York in his first substantial action since Week 11. He played most of the second half after Benjamin St-Juste departed with injury and allowed just three yards on four targets. He was often tasked with press coverage on Jets wide receivers but generally stayed in phase as New York struggled to complete downfield passes. Forbes has now posted coverage grades of at least 64.0 in his past five appearances, something he had not done in his previous six.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 2/22)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 16 Snaps: 0
Week 16 Grade: N/A

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

Pick No. 18: Detroit Lions: LB Jack Campbell

Overall Rookie Grade: 56.9 (Rank: 2/5)
Principal Opponent: T.J. Hockenson
Week 16 Snaps: 46
Week 16 Grade: 76.3

Campbell led the way for a Detroit defense that allowed just 17 rushing yards to Minnesota. His 82.9 run-defense grade was a game high, and he did not earn a single negative grade in the process. Outside of an understandably rough game in Baltimore, Campbell has been a borderline top-10 run-defending linebacker this season. That’s an incredible accomplishment for a rookie who was lauded more for his coverage skills on draft day.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.0 (Rank: 10/12)
Principal Opponent: Brandon Scherff
Week 16 Snaps: 40
Week 16 Grade: 53.6

Kancey had a strange game by his standards. He put forth a couple of nice reps in the run game, including a tackle for loss on D’Ernest Johnson, but generated no pressure across his team-high 34 pass-rush snaps. It was his first game with zero pressures, leading to a season-low 46.6 pass-rush grade. His pass-rush presence will be needed this coming week against the Saints, whose interior linemen have not protected well this season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.7 (Rank: 10/17)
Principal Opponent: Eric Garror
Week 16 Snaps: 39
Week 16 Grade: 66.1

Smith-Njigba caught six of his seven targets as he worked on the outside more often than in recent weeks. Five of his six catches, as well as the vast majority of his yards, came from an outside alignment. So far this year, Smith-Njigba has lined up in the slot nearly 70% of the time. However, his receiving grade is more than 10 points higher when he is lined up outside as opposed to in the slot. This increased usage outside should continue to work to his benefit.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.0 (Rank: 14/17)
Principal Opponent: Christian Benford
Week 16 Snaps: 58
Week 16 Grade: 56.4

Johnston caught just two passes against Buffalo for 29 yards and one first down. The Bills were not hesitant to use press coverage against him, and he caught just one pass for eight yards across 20 snaps against it. Johnston’s 56.4 season-long grade against press coverage is a bottom-10 mark among receivers with at least 20 such targets.

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 74.2 (Rank: 6/17)
Principal Opponent: Dre Greenlaw
Week 16 Snaps: 53
Week 16 Grade: 71.9

After seeing one target a week ago, Flowers was given the lion's share of looks against the 49ers. He brought in nine of his 13 targets — including a season-high two contested grabs — for 72 yards and a score.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.1 (Rank: 8/17)
Principal Opponent: Brian Branch
Week 16 Snaps: 21
Week 16 Grade: 53.0

Addison caught just one of three targets before exiting in Week 16 with a sprained ankle. The two targets he didn’t catch were both intercepted. Between his injury and Minnesota’s shoddy quarterback play, it looks increasingly unlikely that Addison will reach 1,000 yards this year. On the bright side, his nine touchdowns still lead all rookie receivers.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 51.4 (Rank: 21/24)
Principal Opponent: A.J. Brown
Week 16 Snaps: 44
Week 16 Grade: 66.9

A trying rookie season has begun to look up for Banks, who surrendered three catches on four targets for only 17 yards against the Eagles. He has a 63.8 overall grade over the past five weeks after earning a 47.2 mark over the first 11 weeks.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.7 (Rank: 2/5)
Principal Opponent: Kenneth Murray Jr.
Week 16 Snaps: 23
Week 16 Grade: 55.3

Kincaid played his fewest snaps of the season in Los Angeles as the Bills used a receiver-heavy approach. He caught just one of his two targets, gaining seven yards on the play. After a midseason hot streak, Kincaid owns a 54.3 overall grade since Week 12 and has gained just 66 yards in that span. Dawson Knox’s recent return and the Bills' uptick in run usage don’t bode well for Kincaid’s receiving production.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 51.8 (Rank: 9/12)
Principal Opponent: Robert Jones
Week 16 Snaps: 26
Week 16 Grade: 48.3

Smith made one tackle but otherwise struggled against Miami’s dynamic offense. He made two negative plays in run defense and didn’t generate any pressure across his 16 pass-rush reps. Smith sometimes looks like a dynamic player, but the consistency just isn’t there yet. Dallas needs him to find that consistency, as Osa Odighizuwa is the team's only defensive tackle with an overall grade above 60.0.

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.6 (Rank: 5/8)
Principal Opponent: Shaquil Barrett
Week 16 Snaps: 35
Week 16 Grade: 59.1

Harrison was having a fine day pass protecting against Tampa Bay before departing late in the third quarter with an injury. His 77.1 pass-blocking grade led all Jacksonville players and represents Harrison’s second-best mark of the year. His struggles were in the run game, as he earned a season-low 35.5 run-blocking grade. He earned a negative grade on three of his eight run-blocking snaps, losing his man to the inside on all three occasions.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 58.3 (Rank: 11/14)
Principal Opponent: Dan Moore Jr.
Week 16 Snaps: 32
Week 16 Grade: 58.6

Murphy won two of his 13 pass-rush reps, once bull-rushing Isaac Seumalo and the other turning the corner on fellow rookie Broderick Jones. He made little impact otherwise, as he didn’t generate any official pressure and posted a below-average 54.4 run-defense grade. Murphy’s 49.5 run-defense grade is the third lowest among qualified rookie edge defenders.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 45.5 (Rank: 11/12)
Principal Opponent: Steve Avila
Week 16 Snaps: 27
Week 16 Grade: 37.1

Bresee has had trouble in the run game recently, and Thursday night was no exception. He posted a 30.1 run-defense grade against the Rams, his third game out of the past five with a sub-40.0 run-defense grade. He earned a negative grade on four of his 13 run-defense snaps this week while earning no positive grades. For the season, Bresee has graded negatively on 26.7% of his run-defense snaps, which is the third-highest rate among defensive tackles with at least 100 such snaps.

Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.4 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Andrew Thomas
Week 16 Snaps: 16
Week 16 Grade: 45.0

A missed tackle and two catches allowed in coverage on only 16 snaps led to a sub-par 45.0 game grade for Smith, who has played only 129 snaps this season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Jermaine Eluemunor
Week 16 Snaps: 4
Week 16 Grade: 56.0

Anudike-Uzomah didn't record any pressure across four pass-rushing snaps in the Chiefs' upset loss to the Raiders.


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