NFL News & Analysis

Grading all first-round picks after Week 2 of the 2023 NFL preseason

2RGXWRE Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. rushes against the New England Patriots during an NFL preseason football game at Gillette Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Mass. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

• Will Anderson Jr. looks like the real deal: The No. 3 overall pick is one of two first-rounders to have a 90.0-plus grade through two weeks of preseason action.

• Nolan Smith bounces back: He earned a 33.4 PFF grade in Week 1 but ended Week 2 with a near-elite 85.9 mark before exiting due to injury.

• Broderick Jones getting extensive work through two weeks: The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie tackle has already logged 94 snaps, allowing only one sack.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

With two weeks of preseason action in the books, let's see how the first-round rookies from this past April’s 2023 NFL Draft have performed in their first taste of NFL action.

Here is a rank of every first-round rookie who has played so far, ranked by overall PFF grade.

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Pick 1. Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young, Alabama

PFF grade: 47.2
Snaps: 32

Bryce Young’s overall grade is low, but that's really not his fault or anything to be worried about. The Panthers' offense overall (mainly the offensive line) has struggled through its first two weeks of the preseason, and it’s been tough for Young to get much going. Despite the lack of explosive plays, he also has yet to make a turnover-worthy play, which is the better way to judge his situation, at this point.

Pick 2. Houston Texans: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

PFF grade: 50.1
Snaps: 34

Stroud’s preseason did not start the way he wanted it to, as he earned a 34.3 passing grade in his first game due to an early interception. But the second week was much better, as he earned a 69.3 passing grade after recording 60 passing yards on seven total completions. He improved both his average depth of target and adjusted completion percentage in Week 2.

Pick 3. Houston Texans: Edge Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

PFF grade: 92.4
Snaps: 21

It’s a small sample size for these rookies, but Anderson has at least looked like he belongs in the starting lineup already. He has recorded a 92.1 pass-rushing grade on 12 pass-rush reps with one sack and a pressure.

Pick 4. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida

PFF grade: 68.4
Snaps: 29

Richardson threw an interception on his third pass attempt in preseason Week 1, but it truly hasn’t been as bad as that sounds. In that one game, he recorded a 69.7 passing grade and a 62.7 rushing grade. He made that one turnover-worthy play but also a  beautiful big-time throw later in the game.

Pick 5. Seattle Seahawks: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

PFF grade: N/A
Snaps: N/A

Witherspoon reaggravated a hamstring injury and has missed multiple practices since. Head coach Pete Carroll said the rookie should be more involved this week but has not indicated whether he will be ready for Week 1.

Pick 6. Arizona Cardinals: T Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State

PFF grade: 59.8
Snaps: 30

Johnson has played 30 snaps so far this preseason, an even split of 15 between Weeks 1 and 2. He has graded out well in pass protection, earning a 74.8 mark with just one pressure allowed on 18 true pass-blocking reps.

Pick 7. Las Vegas Raiders: EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech

PFF grade: N/A
Snaps: N/A

Wilson is on the non-football injury list while he continues to recover from a foot injury that ended his 2022 season at Texas Tech.

Pick 8. Atlanta Falcons: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

PFF grade: 69.6
Snaps: 12

Robinson has played only 12 snaps this preseason but has earned a 70.0 rushing grade. He has just four carries yet still managed to force four missed tackles.

Pick 9. Philadelphia Eagles: DI Jalen Carter, Georgia

PFF grade: 91.4
Snaps: 9

Carter, albeit on a small sample size, continues to remind us why he was thought to be the most talented defensive player in the class. He has recorded a pressure recorded in each of his two preseason games.

Pick 10. Chicago Bears: T Darnell Wright, Tennessee

PFF grade: 62.8
Snaps: 7

All of Wright's seven snaps so far came in Week 1. He did record a good 74.3 pass-blocking grade in that game against the Titans after staying clean on three pass-blocking snaps.

Pick 11. Tennessee Titans: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern

PFF grade: 63.1
Snaps: 28

Skoronski’s best facet through two games is pass blocking. He recorded a 78.2 pass-blocking grade against the Bears, then a 67.2 pass-blocking grade against the Vikings. He has yielded only one pressure thus far with all of his reps coming at left guard.

Pick 12. Detroit Lions: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

PFF grade: 52.7
Snaps: 18

Gibbs played 18 snaps in his team’s first preseason game and showed out as a receiver, earning a 74.9 receiving grade thanks to his one catch for 18 yards. On that play, he racked up 11 yards after the catch. Overall, it's been a quiet preseason so far for Gibbs.

Pick 13. Green Bay Packers: Edge Lukas Van Ness, Iowa

PFF grade: 58.1
Snaps: 37

Van Ness has played 37 total snaps for the Packers this preseason and played particularly well in the Packers' second contest. He recorded a 69.8 run-defense grade against the Patriots with a solo stop and tackle for loss.

Pick 14. Pittsburgh Steelers: T Broderick Jones, Georgia

PFF grade: 59.9
Snaps: 94

Jones has played the most snaps of any rookie first-round pick. He boasts a 69.0 pass-blocking grade through two games. On 52 true pass-blocking snaps, he has let up just one sack — but three pressures overall.

Pick 15. New York Jets: Edge Will McDonald IV, Iowa State

PFF grade: 65.8
Snaps: 72

McDonald has been on a tear this preseason. He’s already logged 41 pass-rush reps and earned an 80.8 pass-rush grade. That mark is held up by nine total pressures and a 21.9% pass-rush win rate.

Pick 16. Washington Commanders: CB Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

PFF grade: 67.8
Snaps: 31

Forbes has faced only one target this preseason — an 11-yard catch. He made an impressive run stop in Week 2 against the Ravens and leads the team in run-defense grade (81.2) thus far.

Pick 17. New England Patriots: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

PFF grade: 67.6
Snaps: 59

Through two games, Gonzalez has played 57 total snaps — 33 of which were in coverage. He’s earned a 65.5 coverage grade with four receptions allowed for 43 yards. He’s already showing flashes of starting talent.

Pick 18. Detroit Lions: LB Jack Campbell, Iowa

PFF grade: 83.5
Snaps: 57

Playing linebacker as a rookie in the NFL is tough, but Campbell is holding his own. He’s already played 57 total snaps, recording a 73.1 run-defense grade and a 76.9 coverage grade.

Pick 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DI Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

PFF grade: N/A
Snaps: N/A

Kancey has missed three weeks now after suffering a non-contact calf injury in practice, but a recent MRI showed “nothing serious,” according to The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud.

Pick 20. Seattle Seahawks: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

PFF grade: 77.0
Snaps: 26

The “I told you so” comments are already rolling in with JSN, who has a 75.5 receiving grade through two games with six receptions, 83 receiving guards and two first downs.

Pick 21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU

PFF grade: 70.3
Snaps: 43

Johnston has already played 43 snaps through two games. He saw 28 receiving snaps in those games and caught six of his 10 targets for 47 receiving yards and four first downs.

Pick 22. Baltimore Ravens: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

PFF grade: 83.7
Snaps: 16

Flowers put on a show, albeit brief, in preseason Week 2. He hauled in both of his targets on just four total routes, and 28 of his 37 receiving yards came after the catch.

Pick 23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison, USC

PFF grade: 84.5
Snaps: 27

Addison has played in only one of the Vikings' two preseason games but sports an 84.7 receiving grade on 27 snaps. He caught one pass for 22 yards but also had a great toe-drag play at the sideline that should’ve been a catch, showcasing his great body control.

Pick 24. New York Giants: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland

PFF grade: 64.4
Snaps: 61

Banks has logged 61 total snaps through two games, with 36 snaps coming in coverage. He earned a 71.2 coverage grade in the Giants' preseason opener after being targeted three times and not giving up a catch. He also recorded a forced incompletion in the following game.

Pick 25. Buffalo Bills: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah

PFF grade: 64.4
Snaps: 26

Kincaid looks as advertised in the NFL already in terms of what he can do as a receiver. He played 21 of his 26 total preseason snaps in the Bills' Week 2 game against the Steelers. In it, he caught three of his four targets for 45 receiving yards, with 27 of those yards coming after the catch.

Pick 26. Dallas Cowboys: DI Mazi Smith, Michigan

PFF grade: 29.8
Snaps: 65

Smith has played relatively well as a pass rusher and recorded pass-rush grades in the 60s in both of his games with one pressure. But his run defense has been a struggle, especially against the Seahawks, against whom nearly half of his run-defense snaps earned a negative grade (42.1%).

Pick 27. Jacksonville Jaguars: T Anton Harrison, Oklahoma

PFF grade: 69.3
Snaps: 22

Harrison played in the Jaguars' first preseason game and recorded a 78.2 pass-blocking grade with no pressures allowed. He thrived in pass protection at Oklahoma.

Pick 28. Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson

PFF grade: 65.8
Snaps: 34

Murphy logged 34 total snaps in the Bengals' preseason opener. He recorded two total pressures, but his pass-rush win percentage was a low 4.3%. He also made one solo stop in run defense.

Pick 29. New Orleans Saints: DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson

PFF grade: 49.8
Snaps: 49

Bresee has played 24 and 25 snaps in his first two preseason games. He has thus far run hot and cold, showing both flashes of athletic talent on the interior but also having moments where he looks like a rookie. He has yet to record a pressure on 37 pass-rush reps.

Pick 30. Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia

PFF grade: 59.1
Snaps: 47

Smith has played 47 snaps total this preseason and earned an elite run-defense grade in his second game. In Week 2, he recorded a solo stop and a tackle for loss. He left that game early due to injury but appears to have avoided a long-term injury.

Pick 31. Kansas City Chiefs: Edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

PFF grade: 71.1
Snaps: 77

Anudike-Uzomah has played the most snaps of any first-round defensive player thus far in the preseason. He has fared well with six total pressures as a pass rusher and two solo stops as a run defender.

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