NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season

2RXBXPN Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

• Texans' C.J. Stroud is the real deal: The No. 2 overall pick broke out in Week 3 with an 84.3 overall grade to rank fourth in the NFL among quarterbacks.

• Seahawks' Devon Witherspoon stuffs the stat sheet: He was targeted a whopping 13 times but allowed just five catches for 31 yards, collected two pass breakups and led the team with 11 tackles.

• 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: 11 minutes

With their debuts out of the way, the NFL’s first-round rookies are into the meat of their first season. We’ll continue to check in on their performances and principal opponents each week.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 40.8 (Rank: 3/3)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 0
Week 3 Grade: N/A

Young did not play in Week 3 due to injury.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 68.6 (Rank: 1/3)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 56
Week 3 Grade: 84.3

Stroud broke out in Week 3 with an 84.3 overall grade to rank fourth in the NFL among quarterbacks. He’s made a habit of playing well in clean pockets and took it to another level this week. The Ohio State product went 14-of-21 with 234 yards, two touchdowns and a league-leading 91.1 clean-pocket grade. Stroud has so far shown that he is capable of being Houston’s franchise quarterback.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.0 (Rank: 2/14)
Principal Opponent: Anton Harrison
Week 3 Snaps: 44
Week 3 Grade: 73.6

Anderson squared off with fellow first-rounder Anton Harrison and won the battle. Anderson collected four pressures and two run stops en route to a 73.6 overall grade that led all Texans defensive linemen. Anderson’s quickness bothered Jacksonville’s linemen and tight ends all day. Like C.J. Stroud, he is proving his worth as a top-three pick.

Pick No. 4: Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.3 (Rank: 2/3)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 0
Week 3 Grade: N/A

Richardson did not play in Week 3 due to injury.

Pick No. 5: Seattle Seahawks: CB Devon Witherspoon

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.7 (Rank: 6/17)
Principal Opponent: D.J. Chark Jr.
Week 3 Snaps: 79
Week 3 Grade: 70.0

Witherspoon was targeted a whopping 13 times in Week 3 but allowed just five catches for 31 yards, collected two pass breakups and led the team with 11 tackles. He surrendered one first down, which was his only reception allowed that went for longer than six yards. Even more impressive is that Witherspoon was thrust into a CB1 role with Tariq Woolen sidelined. Witherspoon showed he can be half of what should be a fearsome duo once Woolen is healthy.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.2 (Rank: 3/4)
Principal Opponent: Demarcus Lawrence
Week 3 Snaps: 61
Week 3 Grade: 46.7

Johnson drew the near-impossible task of blocking Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence. Predictably, he allowed a sack to Parsons and a hit to Lawrence, as well as committed three holding penalties. It’s unfair to judge the rookie Johnson against Dallas' fearsome pass rush. Things don’t get easier, though, as he’ll be matched up with Nick Bosa next week in San Francisco.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 36.2 (Rank: 14/14)
Principal Opponent: Dan Moore Jr.
Week 3 Snaps: 11
Week 3 Grade: 54.2

Wilson had another quiet day, playing just 11 snaps against Pittsburgh and making little impact. Given his draft status, the starting edge role opposite Maxx Crosby should be his, but he isn’t producing enough to justify something greater than occasional snaps.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 76.3 (Rank: 2/7)
Principal Opponent: Brian Branch
Week 3 Snaps: 54
Week 3 Grade: 52.7

Robinson suffered through his worst day as a pro, accruing just 60 total yards and a 52.7 overall grade. He did force two missed tackles on his 14 touches, but he also dropped a pass and created just one explosive play, an 11-yard carry. Robinson is starting to see schematic disadvantages, such as loaded boxes and man coverage, as Desmond Ridder and the Falcons’ passing game continue to struggle. They’ll need to find ways to create space for Robinson to work his magic.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 93.2 (1/14)
Principal Opponent: Robert Hainsey
Week 3 Snaps: 21
Week 3 Grade: 94.9

Carter continued his torrid start to what could be a long, long NFL career. He led the Eagles with four pressures, including a sack, on Monday Night Football, adding a forced fumble for good measure.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.3 (Rank: 1/4)
Principal Opponent: George Karlaftis
Week 3 Snaps: 51
Week 3 Grade: 63.9

The Bears don’t have many bright spots right now, but Wright is their highest-graded offensive lineman. He had another decent game in Week 3, flashing consistency if nothing else. He allowed three total pressures, including a sack to Chris Jones, amidst near-impossible circumstances in Kansas City. Wright isn’t great yet, but he is far from Chicago’s biggest problem.

Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 81.3 (Rank: 1/10)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 0
Week 3 Grade: N/A

Skoronski did not play in Week 3 due to injury.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 62.7 (Rank: 6/7)
Principal Opponent: Troy Andersen
Week 3 Snaps: 42
Week 3 Grade: 56.8

Gibbs was Detroit's bell cow in Week 3, as he carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards. While Gibbs had three explosive runs, he forced only one missed tackle and finished with a lone reception for two yards. While Gibbs looked comfortable running between the tackles, the Lions would be wise to find more creative ways to use him. He lined up as a receiver on a season-low four snaps against Atlanta.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.7 (Rank: 3/14)
Principal Opponent: Trevor Penning
Week 3 Snaps: 12
Week 3 Grade: 66.9

Van Ness’ workload has decreased in each of the past two weeks. He collected one run stop among his 12 defensive snaps in Week 3. The puzzling part is that Van Ness is third among Green Bay edge defenders in overall grade and second behind Rashan Gary in pass-rush grade. Maybe it’s a matter of matchups, but it seems like the Packers would be wise to give their first-round pick an extended look.

Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 63.1 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 0
Week 3 Grade: N/A

Jones did not play in Week 3.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 66.9 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Vederian Lowe
Week 3 Snaps: 10
Week 3 Grade: 64.9

McDonald played 10 defensive snaps and contributed on special teams a week after being held out as a healthy scratch. He did collect his first NFL pressure, a hurry, against New England, but he’s finding it difficult to secure playing time among a loaded Jets edge group. It’s hard to see McDonald taking on a consistent role without a standout performance or injury to someone in front of him.

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 48.7 (Rank: 14/17)
Principal Opponent: Stefon Diggs
Week 3 Snaps: 28
Week 3 Grade: 55.2

Forbes allowed catches on all three of his targets for a total of 34 yards on Sunday. He was greeted rudely early in the first quarter, letting up a 30-yard reception to Stefon Diggs during a scramble drill. He also missed a tackle on Diggs on a screen pass. On the bright side, Forbes didn’t allow any other big plays and made two run stops. He was drafted to cover, though, and after back-to-back subpar weeks (49.0 Week 3 coverage grade), he’ll likely have a tough time rebounding in Week 4 against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 84.4 (Rank: 2/17)
Principal Opponent: Garrett Wilson
Week 3 Snaps: 62
Week 3 Grade: 75.2

Gonzalez was excellent again in Week 4. Although he allowed a team-high five catches and 45 yards, he was squaring off with the Jets’ best receivers in Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard. His lone pass breakup came while he was tightly covering Lazard on a curl route. His best work was against Wilson, as he repeatedly won with his length, footwork and press technique. Allowing three catches for just 18 yards to Garrett Wilson is a win for Gonzalez. He is currently the fifth-highest-graded cornerback in the NFL.

Pick No. 18: Detroit Lions: LB Jack Campbell

Overall Rookie Grade: 58.1 (Rank: 4/5)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 38
Week 3 Grade: 60.6

Campbell saw an increased workload in Week 3, albeit with 26 of his 38 snaps coming as an edge defender instead of an off-ball linebacker. Despite his reputation as a coverage stud, Campbell has performed better in run defense, as evidenced by his season-high 70.9 run-defense grade against Atlanta. He also earned his first career sack. With James Houston on injured reserve, it will be interesting to see if Campbell is Detroit’s answer on the edge in the short term.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.2 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 3 Snaps: 0
Week 3 Grade: N/A

Kancey did not play in Week 3 due to injury.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.9 (Rank: 14/14)
Principal Opponent: Troy Hill
Week 3 Snaps: 33
Week 3 Grade: 51.5

Seattle scored 37 points in Week 3, yet Smith-Njigba was almost non-existent. He finished with one catch for 10 yards, continuing his early struggles. Even more troubling is that six of his nine catches so far have come behind the line of scrimmage. Smith-Njigba is struggling to separate downfield and doesn’t yet have a good rapport with quarterback Geno Smith.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 56.7 (Rank: 12/14)
Principal Opponent: Josh Metellus
Week 3 Snaps: 16
Week 3 Grade: 54.2

Johnston was quiet for a third straight week, compiling just two catches, both screen passes, for 10 yards. The Chargers seem content to use Johnston as a decoy, but they are going to need more production from him with Mike Williams suffering a season-ending injury.

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 74.3 (Rank: 5/14)
Principal Opponent: JuJu Brents
Week 3 Snaps: 67
Week 3 Grade: 64.4

For the second time in three games, Flowers led Baltimore in catches and receiving yards. Flowers has forced seven missed tackles, the second most in the NFL — behind only Deebo Samuel. He also has yet to drop a ball on 25 targets. Flowers is the Ravens’ most dynamic wide receiver already, causing defenses headaches on short routes and in the screen game.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.5 (Rank: 7/14)
Principal Opponent: Michael Davis
Week 3 Snaps: 59
Week 3 Grade: 61.2

After scoring long touchdowns in his first two games, Addison had to work more for his production in Week 3. He racked up six catches, all in the second half, and 52 yards. There was a clear emphasis as the game progressed to get Addison the ball in rhythm. He looks naturally comfortable finding space in zone coverage. His ability to move the chains will become more valuable as the season continues.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.4 (Rank: 11/17)
Principal Opponent: Deebo Samuel
Week 3 Snaps: 43
Week 3 Grade: 65.3

Banks played roughly half of the Giants’ defensive snaps on Thursday Night Football and performed admirably. While he did give up three catches for 22 yards and a touchdown, he forced two incompletions and was rarely caught out of position. That added up to a season-high 71.1 coverage grade. Banks’ primary struggles were in run defense, which is understandable, given San Francisco’s ability to stress the edges of any defense.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 54.7 (Rank: 3/3)
Principal Opponent: Jamin Davis
Week 3 Snaps: 35
Week 3 Grade: 48.2

Kincaid hauled in just two catches for three yards against Washington as Stefon Diggs carried the load for the Bills’ passing game. He was also flagged for a tripping penalty on his only pass-blocking snap of the game. Considering his light usage as a blocker, Kincaid won’t get much run in games where Buffalo jumps ahead early. They’ll need him to reemerge next week in what should be a shootout against Miami.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.5 (Rank: 6/14)
Principal Opponent: Elijah Wilkinson
Week 3 Snaps: 12
Week 3 Grade: 42.4

In limited work, Smith struggled to a 42.4 overall grade — a team-low mark among defensive linemen. He failed to record a pressure for the second straight game and earned his first negative grade in run defense. Any improvement from Smith would be welcomed by a Cowboys team that allowed 222 rushing yards to Arizona.

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.5 (Rank: 2/4)
Principal Opponent: Will Anderson Jr.
Week 3 Snaps: 51
Week 3 Grade: 71.1

Harrison had his best week so far, as his 81.0 run-blocking grade ranked third among all NFL tackles through Sunday's games. He executed several nice double teams with right guard Brandon Scherff, showcasing power in the run game that wasn’t seen in previous weeks. There’s still room for improvement in pass protection, though, as he struggled to contain Will Anderson Jr.’s speed off the edge. Still, this was Harrison’s most encouraging outing so far.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.6 (N/A)
Principal Opponent: Steve Avila
Week 3 Snaps: 7
Week 3 Grade: 64.6

Murphy logged a season-low seven snaps in Week 3 but secured the second quarterback pressure — a hurry — of his young career.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 62.0 (Rank: 5/14)
Principal Opponent: Jon Runyan
Week 3 Snaps: 38
Week 3 Grade: 59.7

Bresee continues to occasionally flash his playmaking ability. He finished Week 3 with two pressures, two run stops and a batted pass. Those two run stops contributed to a season-best 67.1 run-defense grade. His footwork and quickness inside are his best tools, but he is beginning to show an ability to shed blocks. Bresee should earn more playing time after this performance in Green Bay.

Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 62.5 (N/A)
Principal Opponent: Tristan Wirfs
Week 3 Snaps: 6
Week 3 Grade: 62.3

Despite playing only three pass-rushing snaps, Smith managed a hit on Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield — the first quarterback pressure of his career.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 66.4 (Rank: 4/14)
Principal Opponent: Larry Borom
Week 3 Snaps: 25
Week 3 Grade: 57.4

Anudike’s Uzomah’s third game was a mixed bag. He beat Robert Tonyan inside once in run defense but missed the tackle that would’ve finished the play. He also ran down Justin Fields on a scramble attempt that went for no gain. However, Anudike-Uzomah came away empty-handed on 15 pass-rush snaps despite primarily facing Chicago’s backup left tackle.


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