Each year, the SIS scouting staff puts their money where their mouth is and grades hundreds of the top players in the NFL Draft player pool. The SIS NFL Draft site combines those reports with advanced metrics to provide as complete a picture of each prospect as you can find.

To celebrate the launch of the 2023 version of the site, let’s run through the staff’s top prospects at each position.

(Of course, if you want, you can just look at the full big board, which still has more players coming in!)

Quarterback: Bryce Young

School: Alabama

Grade: 6.9 (Solid starter)

The SIS staff has Young and C.J. Stroud graded the same, but while Young’s body composition is the weakest trait between them, he only had three traits graded as sufficient or worse compared to Stroud’s five. Young’s poise, decision making, and pocket awareness and creativity are his biggest strengths.

From Jordan Edwards’ report:

“Young has a smooth and lightning-quick release while also showing the comfort and effectiveness to throw from different arm angles. He is consistently accurate especially in the short and intermediate areas of the field. While his deep ball accuracy is still good overall, he can miss his targets under pressure or when he can’t set his base. He has the arm strength to make most throws downfield and can put enough velocity on throws into tight windows.”

On the statistical side, our measures of his arm strength and his ability to get the ball out show some flaws, but all other measures of production and accuracy compare very favorably to the rest of the class. His Total Points and Independent Quarterback Rating put him at the top of the group.

For more stats on the rest of the quarterback class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Running Back: Bijan Robinson

School: Texas

Grade: 7.0 (High-end 3-down starter)

Robinson is the consensus top back in the draft, with an unimpeachable statistical record. He easily led draft-eligible running backs in Total Points per game, and did so while running into a heavy box twice as often as he did in previous years.

Chad Tedder highlighted his vision in his scouting report:

“Off the handoff, he does a good job at scanning the line and seeing where openings are going to be. He watches the movements of second-level defenders and can often set them up flowing one way before using his lateral agility to cut back behind them. If the space is not opening, he has the patience and trust of his line to allow for enough space to open for him to accelerate through.”

He’s an asset in the passing game as a receiver, but his worst trait grade came as a pass blocker, where his vision and anticipation in the run game doesn’t quite translate as well.

For more stats on the rest of the running back class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Wide Receiver: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

School: Ohio State

Grade: 6.8 (Solid 3-down starter)

C.J. Stroud didn’t rank as our top quarterback, but one of his receivers does top that positional group. Smith-Njigba didn’t play much in 2022, but his 2021 season would have put him at the top of the position in terms of Total Points on a total and per-play basis.

He’s not an explosive athlete with big top speed, but he’s smooth and fluid with a good understanding of how to run routes running mostly from the slot.

From Ryan Rubinstein:

“In the passing game, Smith-Njigba excels in the slot. He consistently shows burst off the line and can beat press coverage with a studder step or by swiping the defender’s hands away. He mainly finds separation with quickness and route running, stemming to open holes in zone coverage or by manipulating defenders at the top of his route. Occasionally, he tends to get thrown off by contact at his stem but shows the ability to use his off hand to get separation and to recover back into his route.”

For more stats on the rest of the wide receiver class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Tight End: Michael Mayer

School: Notre Dame

Grade: 6.8 (Solid starter with Y & H ability)

Mayer isn’t head and shoulders above other tight end prospects from a scouting grade perspective, but from a statistical perspective he dominated in his last year at Notre Dame. He ranked as the top tight end in 15 out of 22 tight end leaderboards.

The scouting report from Jeremy Percy and Seamus Rooney highlights his hands and his solid blocking fundamentals.

“Mayer has very good hands overall. He has great manual dexterity and is extremely smooth when using his hands independently from his body. He is also adept at extending fully and catching the ball away from his body, regardless of where the pass is.”

“He showcases very good blocking fundamentals, plays under control, and makes getting in the way of his man his top priority while rarely lunging or whiffing.”

Offensive Line: Peter Skoronski (OT)

School: Northwestern

Grade: 6.8 (Solid starter with positional flexibility)

Skoronski ties with center John Michael Schmitz as the top graded offensive linemen, but the former takes the top spot in the rankings. 

He excels in generating power from awkward positions. To hear Jeff Dean say it:

“Power rushers have their work cut out for them, as he has a very good anchor and uses leverage to take away the opponent’s leg drive on these rushes. Even when dropped to one knee, he generates power to keep the rusher at bay and reestablishes himself in proper position.”

On the statistical side, the team context around him makes him look a bit worse than he should, but even the stats that separate him from his context—like blown block rate—don’t show him as an elite producer.

For more stats on the rest of the offensive line class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Interior Defensive Line: Jalen Carter

School: Georgia

Grade: 7.0 (High-end 3-down starter)

Carter’s generally viewed as a better prospect than his former teammates who were first round picks a year ago, but one who also has some red flags in terms of his off-field behavior.

Ben Hrkach’s scouting report alludes to Defensive Player of the Year upside, but with some inconsistency as well. His elite disruption in the running game is communicated most strongly:

“In terms of stopping the run, Carter has a collection of traits that are rarely found outside of a video game. With ideal size and bulk, Carter blends excellent base and upper-body strength with malleable power that allows him to work from awkward angles and reestablish the [line of scrimmage] while moving laterally.”

Inconsistency often leads to less inspiring on-field metrics, and Carter is a victim of that to some extent. He shows elite run defense production—tackling ballcarriers much further upfield than typical—but the pass rush numbers are less stellar, even considering that he’s lining up inside.

For more stats on the rest of the interior defensive line class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Edge Rusher: Will Anderson Jr.

School: Alabama

Grade: 7.2 (High-end 3-down starter)

The highest-graded player on the SIS board, Anderson burst onto the scene in 2021 with 4 more sacks and 13 more pressures than Aidan Hutchinson in his best season. His production slipped to merely quite-good in 2022, but the traits are still there to be a top performer.

His best trait is his strength, which gives him some margin for error in terms of pass rush technique. Jeff Dean noted that he still has room for improvement in his repertoire of rush moves.

“Due to his physical gifts, his pass rushing moves are still a work in progress. Outside of his impressive bull rush, the cupboard is a little lacking. He will flash promising swipe, spin, and push-pull moves, but they are not second nature at this point. Developing more effective counter moves will also be key to his growth, as he can seem a little lost when his initial attack fails. He appears content to stalemate the opponent or take more of a containing role if thwarted.”

Dean also notes that Anderson has a high floor because of his skill setting the edge in the running game (although he could use improvement as a tackler).

For more stats on the rest of the edge rusher class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Off-ball Linebacker: Trenton Simpson (WLB)

School: Clemson

Grade: 6.6 (Lower-end starter)

Simpson is one of four off-ball linebackers to be given the top grade at the position, with athleticism and versatility that make him particularly appealing.

He might struggle to make an impact in the running game initially despite his size, but his flexibility as a coverage defender (particularly in zone) and a pass rusher on third down could have evaluators squinting and seeing visions of Micah Parsons.

Jordan Edwards put his coverage ability this way:

“He can close and gain ground quickly as a zone coverage defender to limit yards after the catch. He is a sure tackler and makes his presence felt on contact, using his length and physicality to bring ballcarriers down. His speed and ability to close quickly also allow him to play in the slot where he can cover and also blitz from depth.”

Simpson’s limitations in the run game come through in his statistical performance as well. He had the worst Adjusted Tackle Depth Plus among off-ball linebackers on the SIS draft board, meaning he was tackling ballcarriers a good bit further downfield than typical.

For more stats on the rest of the linebacker class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Cornerback: Devon Witherspoon

School: Illinois

Grade: 6.8 (Solid 3-down starter)

Witherspoon isn’t the same kind of press-man prospect that Sauce Gardner was coming out last year, but his experience playing primarily man coverage at the college level gives him intriguing upside.

Here’s how Ben McClure described his ability playing up on the line in man coverage:

“He has very good mirror/match technique in press coverage and rarely finds himself out of phase when pressing. He has the ability to run with receivers on crossing routes in press, and also be physical with the opponent off the line and stay tight to vertical routes.”

Statistically, Witherspoon’s flexibility and dominance stand out. He allowed an insane 3.9 Passer Rating in 2022, and was among the best cornerbacks in the class in yards allowed per coverage snap in both man and zone coverage. And despite playing from the slot just a quarter of the time, he tied for the lead in Total Points per game from the slot.

For more stats on the rest of the cornerback class, check out the positional leaderboards.

Safety: Brian Branch

School: Alabama

Grade: 6.8 (Solid 3-down starter)

Branch is a particular kind of safety prospect, as he played from the slot more than two-thirds of the time at Alabama. He shows natural ability as a coverage player, with his best trait grade being his football intelligence and instincts.

From Ryan Rubinstein:

“He displays good footwork at the top of routes and has very good reactive athleticism when flipping his hips, He shows the ability to consistently stick with his man in either press or off-man technique and shows very good mirror/match ability. He puts himself in positions to consistently contest catches and often is able to make plays on the ball to swat it away or try and go up for an interception.”

In the run and pass game he plays with physicality. That shows particularly strongly in his run tackling numbers, which show he makes a lot of plays upfield and doesn’t miss many tackles.

For more stats on the rest of the safety class, check out the positional leaderboards.