I've already picked. Let's go further than that. How about instant-impact entire draft classes? Sounds fun.
Getting valuable contributions from multiple rookies can transform a team in a given year, as those players are as cheap as they come in the NFL. Let's rank the top 10 instant impact classes from the 2023 draft.
Johnston is the YAC weapon the Chargers needed offensively. And to not ask him to be the de facto No. 1 out of the gate will work wonders for his development and allow him to work at optimal efficiency as a rookie. Henley was one of the older prospects at the linebacker spot in the 2023 class, and he plays with knowledge that only comes with more time on the field. Super intelligent diagnosing play designs, and he's a blur in coverage.
Tuipulotu is a flexible inside-out rusher with karate-master hand work and adequate power. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack could use another capable rusher to take some attention away from them, or at least the Chargers defense would benefit from someone taking advantage of all the offensive-line attention Bosa and Mack get every week. Davis' ridiculous feet and return ability make him feel like a rookie who'll hit some splash plays in Year 1 in the NFL.
Tiny class, don't care. Those first four picks were dy-na-mite and can all slot into needed roles on the Broncos in 2023. Mims will take the lid off most defenses with his speed, and he's a roadrunner after the catch. Don't sleep on the Sanders, Nik Bonitto, Baron Browning hybrid outside rushing tandem. All three have JUICE and a diverse collection of pass-rush moves.
Moss was one of the most pro-ready cornerbacks in the class because of his twitch, developed mirroring skill -- that likely comes from all his experience -- and plus ball skills. Skinner would've probably been picked two rounds earlier had he been healthy during the pre-draft process.
It was going to be receiver or cornerback for Giants in the first round, and after an unprecedented run on the wideout position, the G-Men snagged an ideal on-an-island defensive back for Wink Martindale's super-aggressive scheme in Banks. Schmitz is extremely high floor because of his experience, smooth movements in the run game and anchoring plus recovery skill in pass protection.
Hyatt isn't a perfect receiver prospect. He is stupidly fast on the field and will be relied upon early to provide the Giants another vertical threat. I love his pairing with established downfield stud Darius Slayton. Gray was a sneaky-good grab later. He provides a delightful blend of power through contact and twitch to elude defenders. The former Oklahoma star is ready to be an asset in the pass game right away too.
The Bills are going to up their "12 personnel" usage in 2023. Way more two-tight end looks. Kincaid is a savvy zone-beater from the slot, plays with excellent suddenness to get open against man and catches everything, even in congested traffic. Torrence is a pro-ready guard who'll mash in a run game on most occasions and plays with a stellar anchor to deal with the consistent power he'll see from NFL defensive tackles.
Those two alone will have a sizable impact on how efficiently the Bills operate on offense. Williams is short. Everything else about his game screams impact second-level defender in today's NFL. He has scintillating speed, plus awareness of routes and when the football is arriving in coverage, and attacks blocks like he's 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. Don't be shocked when Shorter gets pumped some deep posts from Josh Allen too. At his size, with his build-up speed and strong hands, Shorter has what it takes to be a low-volume, big-play weapon to occasionally stand in for Gabe Davis in Buffalo.
Not an ultra-sexy class for the Bears. A necessary one. The trenches were attacked, and sprinkling in of Scott in the fourth round was fantastic. If he can narrow his focus to eliminate those pesky concentration drops, he'll be a Darnell Mooney type on the perimeter or blazing down the middle of the field from in the slot.
Johnson and D'Onta Foreman together might very well become the least-fun to tackle running duo in football given how stocky and effortlessly powerful they are. On defense, Dexter, Pickens, and Bell are relentless, quality athletes who will make plays on all three downs, and Smith and Stevenson are long, impressive specimens at corner.
The Lions went nutty in the 2023 draft. This article isn't to expound on the timing of the Gibbs pick and how it relates to the team-building process. It's solely to evaluate his impact. And it should be very large this season. Campbell was born to wear the dot in the middle of a modern-day NFL defense, and LaPorta and Branch are such nuanced players at their respective positions. LaPorta could be in line for plenty of targets too.
The Packers drafted like 40 players -- 13 to be exact -- therefore it would've been difficult for them to not be included here. Beyond the sheer size of Green Bay's class, I really liked what its front office did, particularly to make life easier for Jordan Love's unenviable task of following Aaron Rodgers.
At first, they signaled to everyone they weren't going to do that by picking Van Ness in Round 1. He's so good though. And so young and athletic. Then the Packers picked offensive skill-position prospects off the shelves like they were a 10-year-old at the candy store right after getting their first ever allowance. Reed is NFL ready. So intricate and dynamic with all of his on-field movements. Musgrave is a bit of an enigma because of his super-short 2023. But dude can fly. Kraft was a moose with the ball in his hands for multiple seasons at the FCS level. Wicks and Dubose are fun, explosive athletes who play like aggressive rebounders on the perimeter.
Defensively, I love the positional flexibility and sheer power of Wooden, and I'm fascinated to see if the incredibly advanced pass-rushing skill Brooks demonstrated on a regular basis at Bowling Green in 2022 translates to the NFL. Plus, Johnson drops the hammer routinely at safety and as a former corner has natural ball skills. Even Valentine can be useful depth option in the secondary because of his speed and electric plant-and-drive skills.
From the looks of it -- the Seahawks have done it again. Another high-impact rookie class, just like the Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas, Kenneth Walker, Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant masterpiece from 2022. Witherspoon will bring the energy on every snap. If healthy, Smith-Njigba will work the middle of the field like a 10-year vet, and Charbonnet will wear down defenses as the chiseled, athletic back who spells Walker.
I adored Hall as a prospect -- had a late first-round grade on him. He's going to win with speed-to-power conversion around the corner, and I will not be surprised if Bradford and especially Oluwatimi start as rookies. They're unshakable on the inside.
Benton to the Steelers was absolutely perfect. He's the next defensive front seven star on that franchise with a storied defensive history. Porter too. Washington will acclimate quicker than many expect because he can actually make many NFL players look small and lacking in the power department. Plus, Kenny Pickett will be quite fond of his catch radius. Jones could take some time to become steady force on the outside. He won't be a disaster out of the gate, however.
And, please, whatever you do -- don't sleep on Trice just because he's a seventh-round cornerback. He had multiple years of suffocating coverage at Purdue, and he's a textbook tackler.
The Colts have been stagnant the past two years. Bland offensively -- outside of a few monstrous Jonathan Taylor efforts -- and at times stingy defensively. But mostly just stagnant and bland. One draft class can change all that. And this can be the one for Indianapolis. Obviously, it starts with Richardson, my QB1 in the 2023 class. I'm giddy to watch him play in Shane Steichen's system, and, yes, I've accepted that there will be some ugly moments. There will also be dynamic, jaw-on-the-floor plays as a runner as passer.
But it's not solely about Richardson, which is essentially why the Colts take the top spot here. Downs can be a 75-plus catch wideout as a rookie. So nifty and explosive underneath, and he has magnets for hands. Brents and Rush are two long, hyper athletic perimeter corners who will challenge every throw in their vicinity. Mallory and Scott are older, mature players with athleticism galore and Hull can begin his career as a useful checkdown valve for Richardson.