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Welcome to our annual NFL Draft Report Card, in which we grade both teams and ourselves on how well they fared in this NFL Draft.
First off, we grade ourselves on how many players were drafted that we had on our NFL Draft website. After having 69% (174 of 254) of drafted players in the book in 2019, 78% (199 of 255) in 2020, 84% (218 of 259) in 2021, and 86% (226 of 262) in 2022 (Year 1 of the website), we finished the 2023 draft cycle with 92% (238 of 259).
When taking out specialists and fullbacks, which we currently don’t write up, there were only 15 players drafted who weren’t on the site and only 4 of which we didn’t formally watch. That’s over 98% of the NFL Draft covered! Plus, many players we had on the site who didn’t get drafted have already signed free agent deals with teams.
Using our grades, we attempted to rank each team’s draft class. Just like in our article from last season, we assigned all players who were drafted but not on the site a 5.4, which is the equivalent to a training camp body. We took those grades for each player and divided that by the number of selections the team had.
These rankings do not account for positional value, the value of where players were drafted, or trades teams made; it is literally based on the grades we gave the players who were drafted and how much talent we feel teams got from their selections compared to the number of picks they made.
And with that, the 2023 Best Draft Class, with an average grade of 6.58, goes to the Carolina Panthers. They may have only had five draft picks, but they made the most of them by selecting players who were all featured on the SIS NFL Draft site and graded as role-playing starters or better by our scouts.
The Panthers draft class is in the table below.
|Carolina Panthers 2023 Draft Class|
|39||WR||Jonathan Mingo||Ole Miss||6.4|
|114||OG||Chandler Zavala||NC State||6.4|
|145||S||Jammie Robinson||Florida State||6.7|
After trading up for the No. 1 pick in early March, they took the quarterback many thought they would in Bryce Young from Alabama. Young was our top-ranked QB and our No. 4 player overall. He goes to a perfect situation as the quarterback of the future under new head coach Frank Reich.
In the 2nd round, Carolina stayed in the SEC and took Jonathan Mingo out of Ole MIss (SIS No. 12 WR, No. 99 Overall). Having given up DJ Moore in the deal for No. 1, Carolina needed a young receiver to come in. We feel Mingo has the skill set to be a No. 3 WR by Year 2.
In the middle of Round 3, the Panthers selected Oregon’s DJ Johnson (SIS No. 11 ED, No. 64 Overall). He’s an edge rusher who plays extremely hard and relentlessly on every play. As a player who bounced across both sides of the ball a couple times during his Oregon career, he should be able to ascend and hit a high ceiling with enhanced focus on and coaching at EDGE.
Their final two picks were Chandler Zavala (SIS No. 5 OG) and Jammie Robinson (SIS No. 2 S, No. 26 Overall) in the 4th and 5th rounds, respectively. In all, across their five picks in the first 145, they grabbed four players in the SIS 101 and Zavala who just missed the list.
|SIS Top Draft Classes|
|Year||Team||Previous Season||Following Season||2nd Season|
|2019||Tennessee Titans||9-7 (No Playoffs)||9-7 (L, AFC Champ)||11-5 (L, Wild Card)|
|2020||Cleveland Browns||6-10 (No Playoffs)||11-5 (L, Divisional)||8-9|
|2021||Detroit Lions||5-11 (No Playoffs)||3-13-1||9-8|
|2022||New York Jets||4-13 (No Playoffs)||7-10||?|
|2023||Carolina Panthers||7-10 (No Playoffs)||?||?|
Since we grade players based on what they will be at the beginning of Year 2, let’s widen the table of our recent Draft Class winners. After winning as top class in 2019, the Titans made consecutive playoff appearances. While the Browns made the playoffs the next year, the turmoil in that locker room in 2021 forced a fall to 8-9. The Lions did take a dip in 2021 in the first year of a new regime, but they took a huge step forward this past season, nearly making the playoffs. As for the Jets, they improved their record in 2022 and had both the Offensive (Garrett Wilson) and Defensive (Sauce Gardner) Rookies of the Year. The future is bright in New York, especially now that they’ve added Aaron Rodgers.
What does that mean for the Panthers? They now have a new head coach and the No. 1 overall pick lining up at quarterback. They added some nice pieces on offense in free agency in guys like RB Miles Sanders, WRs Adam Thielen and DJ Chark, and TE Hayden Hurst on offense. They also added S Vonn Bell and DTs Shy Tuttle and DeShawn Williams on defense. The team likely isn’t in a position to compete for Super Bowls just yet, but in a wide-open NFC South, there’s a chance they could make the playoffs within just a couple years.
Now, let’s check out how the rest of the teams fared in our rankings. Here are the draft classes ranked in order of their grade:
|2023 Final Rankings|
|Rank||Team||# of Picks||Draft Grade|
The Eagles take home the No. 2 spot for the second straight season after raking in three more Georgia Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball. The Seahawks take the No. 7 spot for the second straight season, as well. Meanwhile, the Lions and Texans join those two teams and the Panthers with a Top-10 finish for the second year in a row.
While we are big fans of Christian Gonzalez (SIS No. 2 CB, No. 8 Overall) and Keion White (SIS No. 5 ED, No. 29 Overall), the Patriots only took one more player with a 6.4 grade or higher in their other 10 picks, and that was Kayshon Boutte (SIS No. 9 WR, No. 92 Overall). They beefed up the OL with three interior linemen we think are all versatile backups. They also added four players (two special teams) that weren’t on this year’s site.
Another team with a lot of picks in their year’s draft, the Jaguars rank No. 31 on the list. While we are high on the upside of Anton Harrison (SIS No. 3 OT, No. 36 Overall), we tab him as just a low-end starter by Year 2. Additionally, only two more of their 13 picks we see as starters by Year 2: Tank Bigsby (SIS No. 6 RB, No. 80 Overall) and Antonio Johnson (SIS No. 5 S, No. 31 Overall). We tabbed only one other player as a versatile backup, and saw six as limited backups. They also took three players who didn’t make the site. The Brenton Strange pick was a bit of a reach in our eyes, as they took him late in Round 2, but we see him as a backup H-only tight end.
This year’s worst class goes to the 49ers. It’s nearly become tradition that the teams with our worst draft class grade are teams without first-round picks. That’s the case again this year, as the 49ers didn’t have a pick until No. 87. However, aside from a kicker (Jake Moody) late in Round 3, all of their draft picks were featured on the site. Additionally, with that 87th pick, they got Ji’Ayir Brown, who was rated our 3rd-best safety and No. 27 player on the SIS 101.
The team may have taken home our worst draft class, but they added some solid depth and are still poised to compete in 2023, coming off an NFC Championship Game appearance last season.
* With only 21 players drafted this year who weren’t featured on the site, a whopping 20 teams had entire draft classes that were all featured on the NFL Draft site. Two other teams selected all but one, with the one being a special teams player.
* Only three players from the SIS 101 went undrafted this year. Ivan Pace Jr. (SIS No.1 MLB, No. 51 Overall) and Andre Carter II (SIS No. 14 ED, No. 73 Overall) are both reportedly heading to the Vikings on UDFA deals. Eli Ricks (SIS No. 12 CB, No. 89 Overall) is reportedly singing with the Eagles.
* With their No. 1 draft class ranking this year, the Panthers now have the best average SIS Draft Class rank and grade average based on our player grades over the past five seasons. The Eagles, Lions, Ravens, and Bengals round out the top 5. The Colts stay on the bottom of this list, having drafted the least amount of talent over the past five drafts according to our grades, although they did have our 11th-best class this year.
How the NFL Draft Site Compared to the Draft
Let’s take a look at how the SIS website stacks up to the NFL’s thinking of where players were selected.
On offense, the first player drafted at QB, RB, and WR was the No. 1 player on our board at the position. While TE and each OL spot differed, the first player drafted at the positions was still in our top 4.
On defense, the top player at each position matched the first player drafted for all positions except the two LB positions. Our top MLB, Ivan Pace Jr., went undrafted and Jack Campbell was our No. 3 MLB. At WLB, our top player, Trenton Simpson, was the second drafted and Daiyan Henley was our No. 4 WLB.
An interesting side note is that there were only four Mike linebackers drafted this year. While we don’t feature many at the position to begin with, linebacker was definitely a down group this year, and the NFL seemed to agree, only drafting 14 as a whole the entire draft.
The top 5 QBs went off the board exactly how we had them ranked. The top 5 OTs and WLBs were the same group we had, just in different order. Additionally, the first five players off the board at every position were players we had featured on the site.
While this was a very deep EDGE class and the first round saw six go off the board, the next two taken early in Round 2 were Derick Hall (SIS No. 21 ED) at No. 37 to the Seahawks and Isaiah Foskey (SIS No. 23 ED) at No. 40 to the Saints. We felt there were 14-15 better options at that point in the draft. Our scouts tabbed both of these players as top backups with 5.9 grades, which is a very worthy player, but they’ll have work to do to live up to their early 2nd-round selection and become starting-level players.
With less top-end talent in this class overall, our scouts graded only 31 players with a 6.7 grade or higher this year and 19 of them went off the board in Round 1. Additionally, only one player graded below a 6.5 (low-end starter) was drafted in the 1st round and that was Mazi Smith (SIS No. 1 NT) by the Cowboys at No. 26. While he had a lower grade, he was still our top-ranked NT. A 6.3 grade is a starting-level grade. However, we felt he’s not yet a three-down starter and will be a better two-down starter and run stopper by Year 2.
Some other players we believe were taken too early for the roles we project them to are Brenton Strange (previously mentioned), Brodric Martin, and Tre Tucker, three players who were Top-100 selections and received grades a notch below a top backup.
The first eligible player (non-specialist or fullback) taken who we did not give a strong enough grade to reach the threshold we set for the website was Packers QB Sean Clifford, taken in the 5th round, 149th overall. Additionally, the first player who went off the board that we didn’t get a formal look or report on was Cowboys CB Eric Scott Jr. in the 6th round, 178th overall.
Safeties Jammie Robinson and Antonio Johnson were the only 6.7s not selected in the top 100. With both going in the 5th round, we feel like they have very good chances to outperform their draft positions. We also feel that Dawand Jones (SIS No. 6 OT, No. 42 Overall) was a great pick by the Browns in the 4th round and SirVocea Dennis (SIS No. 2 WLB, No. 52 Overall) was a great pickup in the 5th round by the Buccaneers. Both players received 6.6 grades by our scouts.
There were two players we had 6.5 grades on who slipped to the 6th round or later. Jaelyn Duncan (SIS No. 8 OT, No. 76 Overall) was a great pickup by the Titans in the 6th round and Andrew Vorhees (SIS No. 3 OG, No. 67 Overall) was an even better pickup by the Ravens in the 7th.
While we assumed Vorhees’ fall due to the devastating ACL injury he suffered at the NFL Combine, we believe him to be at least a low-end starter not long after he gets back to full strength. Baltimore seems to like drafting good players with current injuries and “redshirting” them, as they did the same with David Ojabo last year.
The only two players we graded within the top 5 of their position group who were not drafted were Ivan Pace Jr. and Cam Jones, both Mike linebackers. As previously mentioned, only four MLBs were drafted this year. Additionally, as Pace is reportedly headed to Minnesota on a UDFA deal, Jones has signed with the Chiefs.
SIS Draft Site Report Card
Every year the SIS scouting department looks to make improvements, and this year was no different. With the SIS Football Operation growing the way it is, our time was somewhat limited this year. That’s why we made the decision to only write a Last Word summary for any players who received a grade below 6.0.
While we’d love to keep pumping out full reports for all the prospects we feature on the site, this is what allowed us to get as many on there as we did. It may be a welcomed change that sticks moving forward and allows us to continue featuring so many players.
While last year was the first year of the website, this year was the first that didn’t include one of our original Handbook members, John Todd. However, a five-man scouting team, consisting of Nathan Cooper, Jordan Edwards, Jeff Dean, Ben Hrkach, and Chad Tedder, put in the hard work to finalize over 650 reports, of which 401 made it onto this year’s SIS NFL Draft site. This is the first time in five years the number of players/reports featured went down from the previous year (410 last year), but only by a few.
The number of drafted non-specialist/fullback players not featured on our site went down significantly this year, as did the number of players drafted on whom we didn’t have eyes on at all (only 4 out of 259!). As we noted, our Top-100 evaluations were a big success with 71 of our top 100 drafted in the first 100 picks and only three of our SIS 101 not selected at all. The first player not featured on the website, outside of the specialists, being drafted in the 5th round and the first we didn’t have eyes on not until the 6th round were huge successes.
We can’t wait to build off the successes of our online platform and continue to streamline the process moving forward. Year 2 of the site and Year 5 of the process was the best yet, but we expect next year to be even better, just as every previous edition before it.
Please continue to check out the SIS NFL Draft website as the offseason continues. If you’d like to be involved in our scouting and charting processes next year, consider applying to our Football Video scout position. We’re taking applications and interviewing for next year’s class now.