Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season

2T49RF2 Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. 29th Oct, 2023. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) passes on the run from pressure by New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (90) during the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Credit Image: © Scott Stuart/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News

• Bryan Bresee stuffs the stat sheet: The Saints interior defender racked up two hurries, a batted pass and two run stops.

• Bryce Young wins the battle between top picks: Young helped Carolina claim its first victory of 2023 after outdueling Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud.

• 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

With no byes this week, every healthy rookie will be featured for the first time since Week 4. This week’s slate featured some excellent matchups, including a clash of the top three picks in Carolina.

As always, we will track every first-rounder’s production and their principal opponents.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 54.2 (Rank: 3/4)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 67
Week 8 Grade: 68.2

Young got the better of C.J. Stroud and earned his first career NFL victory. He made a big-time throw for the third straight week and did not commit a turnover-worthy play for the second straight week. Young displayed precision and patience, completing 18 of his 22 passes under 10 yards. He did take six sacks, but he’s generally throwing the ball on time and taking what the defense gives him.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 72.3 (Rank: 1/4)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 58
Week 8 Grade: 60.6

Stroud played similarly to Bryce Young but was unable to find success vertically. Stroud completed just two passes over 10 yards due to Carolina mixing coverages well against him. He also gained a season-low 3.5 yards per attempt when the Panthers did not blitz him. Checking down so often proved to be the downfall for Stroud and the Texans, as they created only three explosive pass plays on the day.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 79.7 (Rank: 1/13)
Principal Opponent: Taylor Moton
Week 8 Snaps: 49
Week 8 Grade: 67.2

Anderson is well known for his pass-rush prowess, but it was his work in the run game that shined this week. He bullied Panthers right tackle Taylor Moton a couple of times, once for a tackle for loss and another on a goal-line stand. His performance helped the Texans to their best performance in run defense this season, allowing just 44 yards on the ground. Anderson continues to establish himself as the centerpiece of Houston’s defense.

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Pick No. 4: Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.2 (Rank: 4/4)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 0
Week 8 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: 84.4 (Rank: 1/17)
Principal Opponent: Elijah Moore
Week 8 Snaps: 76
Week 8 Grade: 56.2

Targeted a team-high six times, Witherspoon allowed just one catch for 21 yards. He was the beneficiary of a dropped slant early on that would’ve resulted in a first down, as well. He also missed a tackle in the run game. Witherspoon wasn’t terrible by any means; he just had a more pedestrian day with a few mistakes mixed in.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.8 (Rank: 5/6)
Principal Opponent: Jadeveon Clowney
Week 8 Snaps: 76
Week 8 Grade: 58.2

Johnson allowed three quarterback hits on 45 pass-blocking snaps. He struggled to deal with Jadeveon Clowney‘s outside move, in particular. His work in the run game was also a mixed bag, resulting in a 61.0 run-blocking grade. Johnson committed a holding penalty during a scramble drill, something he will have to clean up, given Kyler Murray‘s imminent return.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 41.1 (Rank: 13/13)
Principal Opponent: Taylor Decker
Week 8 Snaps: 38
Week 8 Grade: 46.9

Wilson didn't record any pressure from 11 pass-rushing snaps and made just one run stop on 22 run-defense snaps. After earning a career-high 82.9 PFF grade in Week 7, he reverted to another sub-60.0 game grade — his seventh of the season.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 71.5 (Rank: 6/7)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 50
Week 8 Grade: 60.4

Robinson scored his first career rushing touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to propel his team over Will Levis and the Titans. He was held without a catch and saw just two targets in a game where Atlanta trailed all day. Robinson played just seven snaps at receiver, a season low in any of his seven starts. Despite his immense talent, the Falcons continue to struggle to get him the ball, and now they have a quarterback controversy on their hands.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 91.6 (Rank: 1/14)
Principal Opponent: Chris Paul
Week 8 Snaps: 17
Week 8 Grade: 84.9

Carter was solid again before departing at halftime with a back injury. He blew by Chris Paul for a hit on Sam Howell and assisted on a tackle in the run game despite playing only four snaps in that facet. Through eight weeks, Carter has been the Eagles’ most consistent pass-rusher. Any absence would be detrimental to a team already struggling to defend the pass.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 66.1 (Rank: 2/6)
Principal Opponent: Joey Bosa
Week 8 Snaps: 66
Week 8 Grade: 67.7

Once again, Wright was a bright spot for Chicago. His 71.7 pass-blocking grade against the Chargers led all Bears offensive linemen. He allowed just two hurries, one each to Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. He’s also beginning to establish himself as an excellent zone run-blocker. His 76.6 zone run-blocking grade ranks 10th among qualified tackles.

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Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.7 (Rank: 1/11)
Principal Opponent: David Onyemata
Week 8 Snaps: 69
Week 8 Grade: 63.5

Protecting Will Levis was the priority for Tennessee in Week 8, and Skoronski did so admirably. He allowed just two pressures on 31 snaps en route to a 76.3 pass-blocking grade. His most egregious error was being late to a stunt pickup that resulted in a hit on Levis. All things considered, Sunday was Tennessee’s most successful day on offense. Skoronski played a big part in that.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 73.6 (Rank: 4/7)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 29
Week 8 Grade: 83.3

In a career-best showing, Gibbs accounted for 152 yards on the ground — 102 after contact — and another 37 yards through the air. He forced a whopping 11 tackles in total, flashing the all-around ability the Lions were confident in when they shocked the draft world by selecting Gibbs with the No. 12 pick.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.4 (Rank: 6/13)
Principal Opponent: Christian Darrisaw
Week 8 Snaps: 26
Week 8 Grade: 70.2

Van Ness was again workmanlike in a part-time role for Green Bay. He was mostly quiet rushing the passer but did come away with his first batted pass of the season. His 68.5 run-defense grade contributed to an effort in which the Packers allowed only 62 rushing yards on the day.

Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 66.5 (Rank: 1/6)
Principal Opponent: Roy Robertson-Harris
Week 8 Snaps: 5
Week 8 Grade: 60.6

Jones lined up for a few snaps at tight end as Pittsburgh tried to get its run game going. Jones may see an opportunity to start again soon, as Dan Moore Jr. is currently the NFL's lowest-graded pass-protecting left tackle.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 68.4 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Justin Pugh
Week 8 Snaps: 8
Week 8 Grade: 89.8

McDonald had his best day as a Jet in short work. He picked up a pass-rush win and graded positively on three of his four run-defense snaps, collecting a run stop in the process. The Jets shied away from McDonald with the Giants refusing to throw the ball in the second half. His pressure on Graham Gano’s field goal attempt late in the game may have been a factor in Gano missing the kick. More small-sample successes like this will earn McDonald extended playing time.

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 34.1 (Rank: 17/17)
Principal Opponent: A.J. Brown
Week 8 Snaps: 5
Week 8 Grade: 28.7

Though he played just five snaps, Forbes was still a primary target for Philadelphia. Forbes was beaten twice for 45 yards and a touchdown by A.J. Brown. The touchdown was an excellent catch on a back-shoulder adjustment in man coverage. Forbes is currently the second-lowest-graded cornerback in the NFL, and teams are continuing to target him when he sees the field.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 3/17)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 0
Week 8 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: 46.3 (Rank: 3/5)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 8 Snaps: 31
Week 8 Grade: 65.1

Campbell didn't face a target in coverage for the first time all season and played a solid game overall, making four tackles and one stop. He has yet to miss a tackle this season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 45.1 (Rank: 13/14)
Principal Opponent: Connor McGovern
Week 8 Snaps: 41
Week 8 Grade: 59.0

Kancey is somehow both polarizing and consistent. Despite finishing Thursday’s game against Buffalo with just one pressure, he led Tampa Bay with a 73.6 pass-rush grade and an 18.5% pass-rush win rate. He also came away with a subpar 53.7 run-defense grade, though that number isn’t as dismal as the previous two weeks. For now, Kancey is what he is: a borderline top-20 pass-rusher at the position who needs a ton of work in the run game.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.1 (Rank: 12/14)
Principal Opponent: Cameron Mitchell
Week 8 Snaps: 37
Week 8 Grade: 65.8

Smith-Njigba lost some target share with the return of D.K. Metcalf, though he maximized his opportunity. His two best plays came on bubble screens, one of which he burst down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks still have to figure out how to use him in the slot, as he lined up there at his highest rate since Week 4. With Seattle in first place, Smith-Njigba’s development could be a crucial factor in the NFC West race.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 61.4 (Rank: 11/14)
Principal Opponent: Tyrique Stevenson
Week 8 Snaps: 48
Week 8 Grade: 72.3

Johnston finally had a mini breakout on Sunday night against Chicago. He nearly doubled his receiving output with 50 yards and led the Chargers with a 74.7 receiving grade. His best moment came on a crossing route where he broke three tackles to pick up a first down. He also had a nice catch on the back shoulder on a perfect throw from Justin Herbert. In a small sample, these two plays encapsulate Johnston’s skill set. Now, the Chargers just need to target him more consistently.

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.1 (Rank: 8/14)
Principal Opponent: Antonio Hamilton Sr.
Week 8 Snaps: 49
Week 8 Grade: 59.7

Flowers had his quietest day as a pro this week, racking up just 19 yards on five receptions. Utilized almost exclusively on screens and short passes, Flowers wasn’t given much opportunity to make explosive plays. Despite the meek performance, Flowers is still, by far, the Ravens' highest-graded wide receiver. He also has more than double the receiving yards of any other wide receiver on the team. He and Mark Andrews are propping up Baltimore's passing game.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.6 (Rank: 6/14)
Principal Opponent: Jaire Alexander
Week 8 Snaps: 67
Week 8 Grade: 68.6

Addison continues to make a weekly impact in Minnesota. He faced an elite cornerback in Jaire Alexander and got the better of him with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown into his coverage. Addison showcased a litany of route-running skills, including an excellent release on a seam route where he beat Alexander for his touchdown. Addison’s production may dip, though, with Kirk Cousins’ unfortunate Achilles injury potentially leaving the Vikings' offense in shambles.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.6 (Rank: 12/17)
Principal Opponent: Garrett Wilson
Week 8 Snaps: 64
Week 8 Grade: 49.9

Defense won the day in New York, except for Banks shadowing Garrett Wilson. While he did break up two of the 12 targets in his direction, Banks allowed all of Wilson’s seven catches and 100 yards. He also committed two pass-interference penalties and missed a tackle. The Giants ask a lot, maybe too much, of Banks by shadowing him against opponents’ best receivers every week in man coverage. Some weeks are going to be a struggle if that trend continues.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.4 (Rank: 2/4)
Principal Opponent: Ryan Neal
Week 8 Snaps: 58
Week 8 Grade: 73.0

Kincaid was Buffalo’s only active tight end on Thursday, and he took full advantage of his opportunity. He caught five balls for 65 yards and scored his first career touchdown during a well-executed scramble drill. The Bills are starting to use Kincaid’s athleticism and versatility to their advantage. Over the past two weeks, he owns a team-best 80.5 receiving grade.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 45.8 (Rank: 11/14)
Principal Opponent: Kevin Dotson
Week 8 Snaps: 18
Week 8 Grade: 45.9

Smith was one of the few Cowboys who struggled against Los Angeles, posting the lowest defensive grade on the team. Among his 18 snaps was a shutout when pass rushing and a couple of occasions where he was overpowered in the run game. He did make one run stop, but his production hasn’t yet been consistent enough to warrant more than a rotational role up front.

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 56.9 (Rank: 4/6)
Principal Opponent: T.J. Watt
Week 8 Snaps: 71
Week 8 Grade: 59.0

T.J. Watt is arguably the toughest matchup in football for a right tackle, and Harrison got out of it alive. Harrison allowed a sack and two hurries to Watt en route to a 55.9 pass-blocking grade. He did have an eventful day in the run game, showing some strength on the first level and quickness getting to linebackers. Harrison’s job doesn’t get any easier, with a matchup with Nick Bosa on deck after Jacksonville’s bye week.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.4 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: George Kittle
Week 8 Snaps: 9
Week 8 Grade: 60.6

Murphy didn’t see any action in the first half this week and was relatively quiet on his nine snaps. He allowed a seven-yard catch to George Kittle in the flat. He also missed a tackle, albeit without any consequence, on the last play of the game. Murphy’s purpose, for now, is to spell the generally durable Trey Hendrickson. That likely won’t change any time soon.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 53.4 (Rank: 9/14)
Principal Opponent: Will Fries
Week 8 Snaps: 36
Week 8 Grade: 80.0

Bresee had his best day as a pro, racking up two hurries, a batted pass and two run stops. His quickness was a big problem for the Colts’ interior offensive linemen. He’s also learning to extend and use his hands to shed blocks. Bresee’s 73.8 pass-rush grade over the past two weeks ranks 13th among qualified defensive tackles. He’s starting to carve out a nice role for himself in New Orleans’ front four.

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Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 48.4 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Jamison Crowder
Week 8 Snaps: 4
Week 8 Grade: 44.7

Smith played just four snaps and made two tackles. His poor grade is due to losing Jamison Crowder in zone coverage, allowing an 18-yard catch over the middle.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.7 (Rank: 7/13)
Principal Opponent: Garett Bolles
Week 8 Snaps: 9
Week 8 Grade: 64.3

Anudike-Uzomah played just nine snaps, picking up a hit on Russell Wilson in the process. Having played just 24 snaps combined over the past three weeks, he has been relegated to a backup role in Kansas City’s defense.


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