Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season

2T0B9BF Washington Commanders' Emmanuel Forbes in action before an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

• Emmanuel Forbes breaks out: His 91.3 overall grade ranked third among qualified cornerbacks through Sunday. He allowed just two catches, one of which was a screen, for 12 yards on seven targets.

• C.J. Stroud puts together record-setting performance: The Texans' starting quarterback is now the 11th-highest-graded quarterback on the season and the fifth-best from a clean pocket.

• 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

Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season brought a wide spectrum of rookie performances, including a historic outing from C.J. Stroud and an incredible breakout game from Emmanuel Forbes.

We’ll continue to track all of the first-rounders’ progress as the season rolls on.

Pick No. 1: Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Overall Rookie Grade: 50.1 (Rank: 4/5)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 71
Week 9 Grade: 39.8

After several weeks of steady progress, Young’s development came to a screeching halt against Indianapolis. His day was marred by three interceptions, two of which were returned by Kenny Moore II for touchdowns. Young has been under duress all season, but his decision-making from clean pockets is troublesome, as well. His five interceptions from a clean pocket are the second most in the NFL. Two of those five came on screen passes. Young and the Panthers are barrelling toward a bottom-three record without the luxury of a 2024 first-round pick.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 79.0 (Rank: 1/5)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 72
Week 9 Grade: 91.1

After a tough loss to Bryce Young and the Panthers, C.J. Stroud responded with the greatest rookie passing performance in NFL history. Passing yardage record aside, Stroud’s 91.1 overall grade tied him with Joe Burrow for the top mark in the NFL this week. He’s now the 11th-highest-graded quarterback on the season and the fifth-best from a clean pocket. More importantly, he earned the victory over Tampa Bay, capping his day with two spectacular big-time throws to Tank Dell to win it. Stroud is a star and now the clear favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 79.0 (Rank: 1/13)
Principal Opponent: Luke Goedeke
Week 9 Snaps: 40
Week 9 Grade: 64.9

Anderson managed to collect three pressures, including a sack, in Houston’s win over Tampa Bay. Though he wasn’t particularly dominant, he is still Houston’s highest-graded defensive lineman and ranks among the top 25 qualified edge rushers in PFF grade. The Buccaneers are the NFL’s premier pass-blocking unit, and Anderson was still able to make an impact. He, along with his first-round teammate, is on his way to stardom.

Pick No. 4: Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.2 (Rank: 3/5)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 0
Week 9 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: 80.2 (Rank: 2/18)
Principal Opponent: Zay Flowers
Week 9 Snaps: 76
Week 9 Grade: 52.5

Before this week, Witherspoon’s physical presence brought a major spark to Seattle’s run defense. Often lined up as the Seahawks’ third linebacker, Witherspoon was pushed around when Baltimore’s offensive linemen reached him on the second level. He also missed two tackles, one of which jump-started a huge Gus Edwards run. Witherspoon’s future deployment as a slot/linebacker hybrid will be something to keep an eye on if other teams follow Baltimore’s plan of attacking him in the run game.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 50.1 (Rank: 6/6)
Principal Opponent: Za’Darius Smith
Week 9 Snaps: 51
Week 9 Grade: 33.9

Arizona’s offensive line was given the brutal task of blocking Cleveland’s defensive front this week. As expected, Paris Johnson Jr. struggled. He allowed five pressures on the day, including one of Dalvin Tomlinson’s three sacks. Johnson was also overpowered in the run game, earning a negative grade on five occasions. Consequently, Arizona gained just 13 yards on 16 designed carries. Judging Johnson on this game would be unfair, considering the opponent, but it was predictably disastrous.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 41.0 (Rank: 13/13)
Principal Opponent: Andrew Thomas
Week 9 Snaps: 32
Week 9 Grade: 50.8

Wilson’s highlight this week was racing past All-Pro Andrew Thomas for his second career sack. He finished Week 9 with that play as his only pressure on 19 pass-rush snaps. His work in the run game was a mixed bag, as he made three run stops but also lost control of his gap a few times. Nevertheless, while the production is inconsistent, this was Wilson’s most active game, a small win during a mostly tough rookie year.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.1 (Rank: 8/8)
Principal Opponent: Akayleb Evans
Week 9 Snaps: 42
Week 9 Grade: 43.3

Robinson struggled against Minnesota’s stout run defense. He gained just 51 yards, only 11 before contact, and lost a fumble in the third quarter. Atlanta has also been unable to unlock Robinson in the receiving game. He has caught only two passes, both this week, for eight yards in his past three games. The Falcons’ offense is in a tailspin, and it’s no coincidence that Robinson’s decline in usage and production is a culprit.

Pick No. 9: Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter

Overall Rookie Grade: 90.6 (Rank: 1/13)
Principal Opponent: Tyler Smith
Week 9 Snaps: 51
Week 9 Grade: 61.7

Carter had a quiet day from a grading perspective but still came away with a crucial sack late in the fourth quarter against Dallas. Though he wasn’t disruptive this week, Carter has yet to have a poor game and ranks behind only Dexter Lawrence in overall grade among defensive tackles. His 19.1% pass-rush win rate trails only Lawrence and Aaron Donald among interior defenders with 100 pass-rush snaps.

Pick No. 10: Chicago Bears: OT Darnell Wright

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.3 (Rank: 1/6)
Principal Opponent: Cameron Jordan
Week 9 Snaps: 67
Week 9 Grade: 53.7

Wright performed reasonably well in pass protection this week, earning a 71.3 pass-blocking grade and allowing three pressures, two to Cameron Jordan. He struggled to a season-low 39.2 run-defense grade. He earned a negative grade on a whopping nine run plays. He failed to seal the backside multiple times and was repeatedly beaten to his inside gap. This performance is likely an outlier, as Wright has posted a 58.0-plus run-blocking grade in every other game so far.

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Pick No. 11: Tennessee Titans: G Peter Skoronski

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.6 (Rank: 3/11)
Principal Opponent: Keeanu Benton
Week 9 Snaps: 67
Week 9 Grade: 39.6

Skoronski had his toughest day of the year against a tough Steelers front. He allowed five pressures and struggled with the strength of Keeanu Benton. The Steelers also attacked Skoronski with stunts multiple times. Tennessee’s entire offensive line had its worst day of the season this week, and their first-round pick was no exception.

Pick No. 12: Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Overall Rookie Grade: 73.6 (Rank: 4/8)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 0
Week 9 Grade: N/A

Detroit was on a bye this week.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.9 (Rank: 4/13)
Principal Opponent: Rasheed Walker
Week 9 Snaps: 20
Week 9 Grade: 68.8

Van Ness was solid for a Green Bay team that had its best performance of the season. He produced two pressures, both of which were the result of him overpowering tight ends with a bull rush. He also made a couple of nice run stops on back-to-back plays, stunting inside to make the tackle. Van Ness’ rugged, physical presence is a nice change-up for a Packers squad that doesn’t always bring that element.

Pick No. 14: Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Broderick Jones

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.3 (Rank: 1/6)
Principal Opponent: Harold Landry III
Week 9 Snaps: 64
Week 9 Grade: 58.8

Jones made his first career start at right tackle and was mediocre. He allowed just a single hurry in pass protection, though he did lose two other reps. His best play in the run game was a nice second-level block that paved the way for Najee Harris to score in the first quarter. He was inconsistent in that facet as well, though, as he was graded negatively five times in the run game. Considering he played just 36 snaps at right tackle in college, and none before this week in the NFL, Jones did a reasonable job on Thursday night.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: MNF
Principal Opponent: MNF
Week 9 Snaps: MNF
Week 9 Grade: MNF

*Pending Monday Night Football grades release

Pick No. 16: Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.3 (Rank: 14/18)
Principal Opponent: Jalen Reagor
Week 9 Snaps: 48
Week 9 Grade: 91.3

Forbes’ return to substantial action was incredible. His 91.3 overall grade was the third best among qualified cornerbacks through Sunday. He allowed just two catches, one of which was a screen, for 12 yards on seven targets. Both of those catches came on New England’s last drive of the game. He also had three pass breakups and nearly hauled in an interception after perfectly covering a Jalen Reagor go route. Forbes was Washington’s best player on Sunday. They’ll hope he continues that trend after a rough first half of the season.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 1/18)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 0
Week 9 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 9 Snaps: 0
Week 9 Grade: N/A

Detroit was on a bye this week.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.5 (Rank: 9/13)
Principal Opponent: Tytus Howard
Week 9 Snaps: 59
Week 9 Grade: 68.9

Kancey had a nice day rushing the passer in Houston. He collected his second career sack, along with two hurries. His best rep was on one of those hurries when he beat Tytus Howard with a nasty spin move inside and flushed C.J. Stroud from the pocket. Kancey’s 11 pressures since Week 6 are tied for the 11th most among defensive tackles. He’s a situational pass-rusher, but a very good one.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.3 (Rank: 13/15)
Principal Opponent: Geno Stone
Week 9 Snaps: 40
Week 9 Grade: 64.8

Seattle’s offense was shut down in Baltimore, but Smith-Njigba finished the game as their most productive player. He recorded six receptions, 63 yards and two first downs, all of which led the team. His slot fade reception against Arthur Maulet was his longest gain of the season. It was also just his third deep target of the season. An increase in deep chances could be warranted for Smith-Njigba, who tied for the FBS lead in 2021 with a 99.9 deep receiving grade while at Ohio State.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: MNF
Principal Opponent: MNF
Week 9 Snaps: MNF
Week 9 Grade: MNF

*Pending Monday Night Football grades release

Pick No. 22: Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers

Overall Rookie Grade: 69.3 (Rank: 8/15)
Principal Opponent: Devon Witherspoon
Week 9 Snaps: 52
Week 9 Grade: 59.5

Flowers wasn’t as involved as usual during a banner day for Baltimore’s rushing attack. His lone catch came on a crossing route where he turned around Devon Witherspoon with a nasty cut to gain a first down. Flowers still led all Ravens with 31 receiving snaps, so the opportunities will continue to come. Baltimore’s game script with an early lead was a greater detriment to Flowers’ production than any struggles.

Pick No. 23: Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison

Overall Rookie Grade: 70.2 (Rank: 7/15)
Principal Opponent: Jessie Bates III
Week 9 Snaps: 73
Week 9 Grade: 63.4

Despite Minnesota’s wild quarterback situation, Addison was productive against Atlanta. He caught five of his seven targets. His two explosive plays both came while exploiting the Cover 2 hole down the sideline, the first on a corner route and the second on a go route during the Vikings’ game-winning two-minute drill. Addison should continue to produce if quarterback Josh Dobbs plays as well as he did Sunday.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 47.3 (Rank: 17/18)
Principal Opponent: Davante Adams
Week 9 Snaps: 58
Week 9 Grade: 29.7

Banks was targeted 11 times in Week 9, nearly half of his team’s target total, and it did not go well. He broke up a pass on a Davante Adams dig route but otherwise allowed six catches for 110 yards and four first downs. He was beaten deep by Tre Tucker for a 50-yard gain and often looked uncomfortable when in zone or non-press coverage. Banks' life won’t get any easier if the Giants choose to shadow him with the red-hot CeeDee Lamb next week in Dallas.

Pick No. 25: Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid

Overall Rookie Grade: 68.7 (Rank: 2/4)
Principal Opponent: Germaine Pratt
Week 9 Snaps: 52
Week 9 Grade: 75.1

Kincaid continued his hot streak by carving through the Bengals’ defense. Operating primarily from the slot, he hauled in a game-high 10 passes for 81 yards. Nine of his 10 receptions were short passes, but he maximized his opportunities with 49 yards after the catch. Over the past three weeks, Kincaid ranks in the top six among tight ends in receptions, yards and receiving grade. He’s now an integral part of Buffalo’s offense.

Pick No. 26: Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 41.9 (Rank: 12/13)
Principal Opponent: Landon Dickerson
Week 9 Snaps: 12
Week 9 Grade: 35.4

Though he played just 12 snaps, Smith finished with a team-low 35.4 overall grade and 40.8 run-defense grade. He struggled a couple of times with Jason Kelce’s footwork in the zone running game and with Landon Dickerson‘s strength. Smith currently carries the third-lowest run defense grade among qualified defensive tackles (30.2).

Pick No. 27: Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Anton Harrison

Overall Rookie Grade: 56.9 (Rank: 4/6)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 9 Snaps: 0
Week 9 Grade: N/A

Jacksonville was on a bye this week.

Pick No. 28: Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy

Overall Rookie Grade: 55.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Dion Dawkins
Week 9 Snaps: 10
Week 9 Grade: 59.1

Murphy had his most productive game rushing the passer against Buffalo. He collected two hurries and another pass-rush win on just nine snaps, beating Dion Dawkins inside on all three reps. That production led to Murphy finishing the night with a team-best 77.0 pass-rush grade. Opportunity is hard to come by with Trey Hendrickson having an All-Pro-caliber season, but continued positive efforts from Murphy will earn him more chances.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 52.1 (Rank: 10/13)
Principal Opponent: Cesar Ruiz
Week 9 Snaps: 33
Week 9 Grade: 51.3

Bresee had an up-and-down day in New Orleans this week. He did make a run stop but was moved multiple other times in the run game. He was also held without a pressure for the first time this season. His most impactful play came on a batted pass on a crucial third down late in the fourth quarter that forced a punt.

Pick No. 30: Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith

Overall Rookie Grade: 47.5 (Rank: N/A)
Principal Opponent: Tyron Smith
Week 9 Snaps: 9
Week 9 Grade: 52.5

Smith was used as an occasional pass-rusher against Dallas but came away empty-handed on seven pass-rush snaps. He didn’t play a single defensive snap in the fourth quarter, as he is not yet being relied upon in big situations.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.1 (Rank: 8/13)
Principal Opponent: Terron Armstead
Week 9 Snaps: 4
Week 9 Grade: 29.7

Anudike-Uzomah played only four snaps, and his only graded play was a negative one where he lost control of his gap against a pulling guard.


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