Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (2024)

  • Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (1)

    ESPN staffApr 27, 2023, 09:30 PM

The Carolina Panthers, with the No. 1 overall pick, are hours away from being on the clock -- which means the 2023 NFL draft has arrived. There will be 259 total selections over a three-day period from Thursday to Saturday.

The big questions heading into the draft: Where the top quarterbacks are going and how many will be chosen in the top five selections? But there also are numerous talented playmakers on both sides of the ball who could be high picks.

To get you ready for all the action, here is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the draft -- including times, location, draft order, best prospects, rankings, mock drafts, stats to know and more. Read about the draft's best prospects, your team's pressing needs and why there are only 31 picks in the first round this year. Let's start with some of the basics:

ESPN Draftcast | Best available

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (2)

Where, when and how to watch the draft

  • Round 1: Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, ABC, ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network)

  • Rounds 2-3: Friday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, ABC, ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network)

  • Rounds 4-7: Saturday at noon ET (ESPN with ABC simulcast, ESPN App, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network)

The 2023 draft is being held in Kansas City, Missouri -- the home of the Super Bowl LVII champion Kansas City Chiefs. Among at least 17 players who will be onsite are USC WR Jordan Addison; Alabama OLB Will Anderson Jr. and QB Bryce Young; Georgia DT Jalen Carter; Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. and QB C.J. Stroud; Kentucky QB Will Levis; Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.; Florida QB Anthony Richardson; and Texas RB Bijan Robinson.

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (3)

What is the draft order?

There will be 259 picks in this year's draft and the Carolina Panthers have the first overall pick after a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears. The Houston Texans and Las Vegas Raiders have the most picks in the entire draft with 12 each, while the Miami Dolphins have the fewest with just four after being stripped of their first-round selection for tampering violations.

Top 10:

1. Carolina Panthers (via CHI)
2. Houston Texans
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
6. Detroit Lions (via LAR)
7. Las Vegas Raiders
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR)
10. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)

  • Full 259-pick draft order

  • Draft needs for all 32 teams (ESPN+)

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (4)

How do the prospects in this class rank?

Scouts Inc. top 10 prospects:

1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama (Highlights)
2. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (Highlights)
3. Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama (Highlights)
4. Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech (Highlights)
5. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State (Highlights)
6. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (Highlights)
7. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (Highlights)
8. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (Highlights)
9. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (Highlights)
10. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (Highlights)

Scouts Inc. top six quarterbacks:

1. Bryce Young, Alabama
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
3. Anthony Richardson, Florida
4. Will Levis, Kentucky
5. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
6. Jake Haener, Fresno State

Best overall prospects and best prospects by position:

  • Kiper: Big Board ranking of top 150 prospects, position rankings (ESPN+)

  • McShay: Top 350 prospects and final positional rankings (ESPN+)

  • Reid: Top 379 prospects and final positional rankings (ESPN+)

  • Miller: Top 368 prospects and final positional rankings (ESPN+)

  • Legwold: Ranking the top 100 prospects

  • Consensus: Our analysts' top prospects at every position (ESPN+)

More about the standout players:

  • Bowen: The best prospects at 53 different skills (ESPN+)

  • Connelly: Flaws for QBs Young, Stroud, Levis, Richardson (ESPN+)

  • ESPN: 15 experts pick the best prospect-to-pro matches

  • McShay: Best draft playmakers in space

  • Kiper: Favorite players at every position (ESPN+)

  • Riddick: Favorite prospects, sleepers

  • Legwold: Biggest risers to know

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (5)

How good is the 2023 draft class?

The 2023 draft class is not an overly strong group outside of a few core positions: quarterback, offensive tackle and cornerback. These three positions are very good in terms of Round 1 talent but lack firepower in the subsequent rounds. In speaking with NFL scouts throughout this process, most have projected around 15 true first-round grades, which is on par with previous years. A lack of star power at wide receiver and defensive tackle affects the overall perception of this draft, as does the fact that the deepest positions in this draft -- running back and tight end -- have largely been devalued in previous draft's early rounds.

In my time spent covering the draft professionally (2011-present), this isn't the worst draft -- that honor belongs to 2013. But it is in the bottom half of classes I've studied in terms of first-round talents, starter-level grades and the level of talent seen in the middle rounds of the draft. -- Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (6)

Latest mock drafts

Are you looking for the most up-to-date mock drafts from all of our draft analysts? Well, you found them. See whom each analyst has going to every team in the first round.

  • Kiper: Final mock draft (ESPN+)

  • McShay: Final mock draft (ESPN+)

  • Kiper & McShay: Three-round alternating mock draft (ESPN+)

  • Miller: Seven-round mock draft (ESPN+)

  • Reid: Seven-round mock draft (ESPN+)

  • Barnwell: Proposing trades for all 31 picks

  • NFL Nation: Reporters make every first-round pick

  • Miller & Reid: All-QB mock draft (ESPN+)

You can find every mock draft here.

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (7)

Pre-draft buzz

What are our experts hearing in the rumor mill ahead of Thursday's draft? Does anyone know what Houston will do at No. 2? Here's the latest from ESPN+.

  • Last-minute buzz: Latest on QB movement, early picks, potential trades

  • McShay: Buzz on the top 13 picks, interesting team storylines

  • Miller/Reid notebook: What we're hearing a week before the draft, including trade offers

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (8)

10 things to know from ESPN Stats & Information

  1. The No. 1 overall pick was dealt by the Bears to the Panthers. The trade marked just the 12th time in NFL history that the No. 1 overall pick changed hands ahead of the draft. The last instance was the Rams trading up in 2016 to select quarterback Jared Goff.

  2. Bryce Young could become the first player from Alabama to be picked No. 1 overall in the common draft era (since 1967).

  3. The past five No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft have made the playoffs within their first three seasons.

  4. In the common draft era, there have been three instances of QBs being selected with each of the first three picks of a draft. It happened in 2021, 1999 and 1971.

  5. Since Peyton Manning in 1998, 18 of the 25 No. 1 overall picks have been quarterbacks. Only eight QBs went first overall in the first 31 years of the common draft era.

  6. The Seahawks, Lions and Eagles finished with a winning record last season and are picking in the top 10. If they make those picks, it will be the first year since 1969 when three teams with a winning record have picked in the top 10.

  7. Over the past four drafts, the earliest that a running back has been drafted was the 24th pick.

  8. Among active players in the 2022 season, 64% were drafted after the third round or went undrafted.

  9. Players selected during Day 3 of the 2022 draft totaled the most snaps (39,367), games (1,445) and starts (356) of any Day 3 rookie class since 2010.

  10. The 2022 draft featured 37 draft-day trades. There were nine draft-day trades during the first round, the most during a first round since 2004 (10).

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (9)

Projecting the draft's top players

Football Outsiders uses metrics to predict how good players will be in their first five years in the NFL. Does the 2023 class of quarterbacks have multiple elite QBs in the mix? How do the running backs stack up behind Bijan Robinson? Which wide receivers will make the biggest impact? And what pass-rushers should teams not want to face? All of those questions are answered below, via ESPN+.

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Edge rushers

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (10)

Betting on the draft

Planning on placing bets on draft day? Our sports betting team is here to help you make the most informed wagers possible.

  • How to bet the NFL draft: Tips and picks

  • Six storylines bettors should look out for

  • How to approach betting the NFL draft

  • NFL draft betting odds, trends and notable bets

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Read about the prospects

Who are some of the top prospects in this week's draft? From a second-generation NFL player to a college walk-on, here are some of our favorite stories about the class of 2023.

  • Is Bryce Young ready to upend decades of NFL conventional wisdom?

  • The cannon and the question: Will Levis is confident he can quiet NFL draft doubts

  • Why NFL draft prospect Anthony Richardson says he's 'not from Earth'

  • Meet Bijan Robinson, a generational NFL draft talent in the wrong generation

  • Joey Porter Jr. is blazing his own path to the 2023 NFL draft

  • Michigan center Olu Oluwatimi's journey of triumph and tragedy

  • Meet Cody Mauch, the most interesting offensive lineman in the NFL draft

  • How Quentin Johnston stuck with TCU, became a superstar and saw his faith rewarded

  • A Cowboys scout and the one NFL prospect he won't grade -- his son

  • Stetson Bennett rewrote Georgia's script and became a legend

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (12)

NFL Draft Day Predictor

Our Draft Day Predictor is a publicly available tool that uses expert mock drafts, Scouts Inc. grades and team needs to forecast pick probabilities for prospects in the upcoming draft. That means we can predict when the best players will get picked and the chance they will be available at certain slots. -- Seth Walder, analytics writer

  • Draft Day Predictor answers nine questions

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (13)

What to expect from the draft

The 2023 draft is full of talent at quarterback, tight end and offensive tackle. There are a lot of teams particularly excited about this offensive tackle class, and rightfully so. There could be as many as six selected in the first round, which would tie what we saw in 2020. Quarterback is a bit top heavy and there could be as many as five picked in the first round. There's a bit of a drop-off after that point, but there's value to be had in the mid-to-late rounds. With the recent success of Brock Purdy, teams will be more likely to draft a signal-caller late.

The great part about this defensive end class is that there are many different types of players who fit various schemes. The same could be said for cornerback -- the depth in this class is noteworthy. While there could be as many as five selected in the first round, there are also many players at the position who could come off the board rather quickly into Day 2. -- Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (14)

Frequently asked draft questions

  • Why are there 31 first-round picks this year?

  • Who are the lowest drafted HOFs ever?

  • When did the draft change to seven rounds?

  • Who is the oldest person drafted?

  • Who are the best Mr. Irrelevants ever?

Our NFL draft cheat sheet: What you need to know on top prospects, team needs, projections (2024)

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