In an article about NFL Draft picks, a football on the center field line.

Grading the Top 3 Picks of the 2023 NFL Draft

Read to look deeper into the top 3 picks of the 2023 NFL Draft and their potential impact on the league's future.

Bryce Young

Bryce Young was the first pick in the NFL draft, which was no surprise for anyone who follows football. Young is a great option due to his athleticism, leadership, character, playmaking and all-around “it factor.” His stature shouldn’t have too big of an effect because his abilities and aptitude in every other area are exceptional. But the most important thing to remember when talking about Young is that he is a force to be reckoned with, despite being only 5’11” and 204 pounds. Young is considered a top-tier talent and possibly the most instinctual quarterback in this year’s class, despite the fact that some teams and evaluators may find it difficult to look beyond his size.

At the most important position in the game, there has been an increasing emphasis on individual creativity as the sport develops. Young is exceptional at prolonging plays, avoiding obstacles and scoring from unusual angles. His uncanny ability to create cohesive plays despite his size is nothing short of magical.

Young, who stands out as the extreme outlier, is a maestro in the pocket and is skilled at overcoming any obstacle.  According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, one league official called the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner a “mental savant,” while an AFC personnel evaluator claimed he is the “most pro-ready” and “sees the whole field better than anyone.” The Carolina Panthers moved to sign the franchise quarterback they had been looking for ever since Cam Newton’s health deterioration forced him to leave before the 2020 season. In exchange for the top pick, they sent the Chicago Bears the ninth overall pick this year, a second-rounder, a first pick in next year’s draft, a second-rounder in 2025, and wide receiver DJ Moore. Overall it is a great pick by the Panthers despite Young’s short stature.  

CJ Stroud

The second pick was by the Houston Texans, and they drafted the Ohio State star CJ Stroud. He should have been the first pick, as his abilities rival Young’s, and he stands at a formidable 6’3.” Stroud makes everything look simple. His footwork is quick and accurate and his mechanics are textbook. The two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year performs best when he’s in his element. His performance suffers under pressure, causing play structures to fall apart, worrying scouts and teammates. Time is the best teacher in this instance, this weakness can be easily fixed through game experience. 

With an 85-to-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the course of two seasons, Stroud’s performance against the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff semifinal showed his ability to perform under pressure. Stroud expertly handled the Bulldogs’ powerful defense in what might be the most amazing single-game performance by any candidate in this year’s draft class. Stroud routinely made plays that kept his team in the game when victory seemed impossible. In the end, he lost the close game 42-41 after throwing for 348 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Stroud is the best player in the Draft and his presence will directly and positively impact the struggling Texas organization.

Will Anderson Jr.

The Third Pick was a fantastic trade-up by the Texans, earning them the best defensive player in the draft, Will Anderson Jr.  Anderson outperforms even some of the most outstanding defenders from the last 15 years. The two-time SEC defensive player of the year outperformed top-drafted players Travon Walker, Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett, who all received the first overall pick in their respective draft classes.

Anderson has more career tackles for loss than Alabama legend Ndamukong Suh, which speaks volumes to his potential, considering Suh’s illustrious career. Anderson also played for the Crimson Tide for just three seasons and still managed to put together an unbelievable college career. Anderson’s diverse skill set is awe-inspiring to say the least.

The Alabama alum has an amazing physique, complete with long arms and a muscular frame. His outstanding get-off and technique allow him to quickly trim edges with his inside moves. Anderson can efficiently breach the pocket thanks to his footwork, cornering and closing speed, even when forced around the arc or on the diagonal. Although he can still use his hands more effectively, he will need to demonstrate that he can continue to record high sack totals outside of decorated head coach Nick Saban’s offensive scheme. Ideally suited for a 3-4 front, Anderson’s length can best be leveraged by playing wider, which can help for any size deficiencies at the point of attack. 

His impressive performance during the 2020 season ranked him third in the SEC with seven sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and 52 tackles, further highlighting his skills. With an impressive 101 tackles, 17.5 sacks and three pass interceptions in 2021, Anderson solidified his position as one of college football’s most dominant players.

Anderson made an everlasting impression on the field by continuously exhibiting exceptional talent and tenacity during his time in college. Both teammates and opponents admired and respected him for his capacity to frustrate opposing offenses and produce game-changing plays. His performance in 2022 was still excellent, but wasn’t as striking as it was in prior years. He had 51 tackles and 10 sacks. Despite a slight decline in his overall impact, Anderson’s grit and commitment to the game were still clear and did not turn away any NFL scouts. 

His development as a player was evident throughout his collegiate career as he continued to improve his technique and increase his football acumen. His emergence as a top defensive player has been greatly aided by his outstanding work ethic and dedication to progress.  His physical attributes, athleticism and triumphs over elite competition point to a bright future that brings with it Pro Bowl Selections and possibly a Super Bowl. 

Joshua Shweiki, University of Maryland, College Park

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Joshua Shweiki

University of Maryland, College Park
Government and Politics

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