My Favorite Draft Classes of the 2023 NFL Draft
I compiled a list of my favorite draft picks for all 32 teams on Tuesday, and today I’ve ranked my five favorite draft classes in the 2023 NFL Draft. These five classes combine excellence through volume, top-end talent, immediate contributors, and efficiency.
Again, we won’t know much past the scouting reports and available information for a few years. Still, these classes have me especially excited for their respective teams as a whole.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Snagging Jalen Carter at No. 9 and Nolan Smith at the tail end of the first round was the foundation of a solid draft class for the Philadelphia Eagles. After paying Jalen Hurts a couple of weeks ago, landing a solid draft class full of young and cost-controlled players was crucial. The value in the Nolan Smith pick was tremendous, and he fits what the Eagles look for in a pass rusher. Learning on the job from Hasaon Reddick and Brandon Graham will also be a significant advantage for Smith.
Carter and Smith are the cornerstones of the draft for the Eagles, but the entire class was impressive. Tyler Steen provides the Eagles with a young tackle, and Sydney Brown and Kelee Ringo help address the secondary depth need for the Eagles.
Kelee Ringo slipping to No. 105 was a surprising turn of events. However, there were talented cornerbacks aplenty in the early rounds of the draft. Ringo is a candidate for my Day 3 diamonds story that will drop on Friday. So again, a great value in that pick for Howie Roseman and the Eagles.
2. Houston Texans
The Texans became the first team to draft back-to-back within the top five picks since the Commanders did so in 2000 and just the third team in NFL history. They knocked it out of the park, taking C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr., two I had as the top prospects at their positions in the pre-draft process.
Houston also double-dipped at center in this draft. Still, Juice Scruggs will be their center, and Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson will provide depth at multiple interior positions. In addition, Houston wide receiver Tank Dell will be a day-one rotation member in the Texans’ pass-game and return game. He’s only five-foot-eight, 165 pounds, but he’s slippery as can be.
So, if we’re doing the math, Houston landed two sure-fire starters, two-to-three immediate rotation players, and solid depth with versatility.
3. Seattle Seahawks
When your tenth and final pick averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 149 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns at Georgia last season. Oh, and he caught 43 passes for 505 yards (11.7 YPC) and two touchdowns; you’ve done pretty well. The Seahawks capped a strong 2023 NFL Draft by selecting Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh, who was no slouch last season.
Seattle’s draft was as top-heavy as it was deep, though. The Seahawks landed Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. That’s arguably the best first-round hall of the entire NFL Draft. Witherspoon and JSN will be day-one contributors on a winning team looking for an NFC West title this season.
Seattle drafted UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet and Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh to create depth behind 2022 Rookie of the Year finalist Kenneth Walker III. The running back position is by committee and requires depth more now than ever. They also landed a pair of EDGE rushers, a pair of interior offensive linemen, a defensive tackle, and a safety. Lots of boxes checked with plenty of bang up top and depth the rest of the way.
4. Chicago Bears
I really like the Bears draft class. Ryan Poles put on a masterclass in building out a roster last weekend. The Bears didn’t have the star power at the top that the above teams did, but they did as well as any of them when it comes to the complete group.
Darnell Wright was my preferred pick if they went tackle inside the top ten, and they extracted more draft capital while landing him. Wright will be the day-one right tackle in Chicago this season. While there has been some chatter over his work ethic, I think that the Bears basically giving the Eagles Jalen Carter once again proved that — right or wrong — they’re resolute in their process and believe that they can fix Wright’s question marks, and not Jalen Carter’s.
They didn’t find the help on the edges they wanted on defense. Still, they added two solid players up the middle. They snagged two more day-one contributors in cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and wide receiver Tyler Scott. Roschon Johnson could be the primary back by the end of the season, and Noah Sewell looks like a solid depth piece in a significantly improved linebacker room.
This draft class will allow Ryan Poles and the Bears to zero in on top-end free agents next year and round this whole thing out. Excellent work in this NFL Draft for Ryan Poles and his team.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers didn’t have the volume of picks that the other teams in this group had. Still, they had an incredibly efficient draft, nonetheless. With Paris Johnson Jr., Darnell Wright, and Peter Skoronski off the board, the Steelers jumped ahead of the Jets to snag Georgia tackle Broderick Jones. Pittsburgh needed a tackle, and they knew that the Jets did too, but they ensured they got their guy.
Even so, they got the guy that many saw them taking in the first round at No. 32 the next night in Joey Porter Jr. It’s like having two first-round picks like some of these other teams — they can thank the Bears for that — and they hit on pretty good players with both choices.
But even the rest of their next three picks were packed with value. Darnell Washington fell, and Pittsburgh was there to provide him with a soft landing at No. 93. The Steelers will look pretty good for that move down the road.