Predicting the NFL’s Most Impactful Rookie Draft Classes

Photo Cred: SI
Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts | National Football League, News, Scores, Highlights, Injuries, Stats, Standings, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

Photo Cred: Bleacher Report

Starting this list with the Colts may be a homer take, but the Colts had one of the most acclaimed draft classes in 2023. The Colt’s draft will be looked upon by the success of QB Anthony Richardson in the league. Richardson is a massive boom-or-bust prospect. He has all the physical tools to be one of the best at his position in the NFL.

The Colt’s second-round pick, CB Julius “Juju” Brent projects to be an instant starter. WR Josh Downs, taken in the 3rd round, was applauded as one of the biggest steals in the draft by analysts. He has a chance to compete immediately with veteran WR Isaiah McKenzie as their starting slot. DE/DT Adetomiwa Adebawore likewise was considered a huge steal, taken at the top of the 4th round. Adebawore has some of the highest athletic traits at his position and could instantly impact their D-line rotation. The Colts had eight more day-three picks with huge athletic potential and excellent value.

Houston Texans

Houston Texans Football - Texans News, Scores, Stats, Rumors & More | ESPN

Photo Cred: ESPN

The Texans had to be on this list with their current mix of poor (though improved) overall roster talent and high capital of draft picks. QB C.J. Stroud, taken 2nd overall, will be Houston’s instant starter at the QB position. Like the Colts, the success of this draft will hinge on Stroud’s success in the league. Their draft will also hinge on the success of the 3rd overall pick, Edge Rusher Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama. The Texans gave up a massive haul to move up for the best defensive prospect in the class. Anderson will be a day-one starter on the defensive line and has all the potential to win DROY.

They’ll need him to be that type of player after giving up a second this year, plus a 1st and 3rd next year to get him. Beyond those two, C Juice Scruggs will be plugged in immediately as their starting Center. Scruggs was a surprising pick at the end of the second round. That draft capital almost guarantees he will start day 1. WR Tank Dell from Houston, taken round three, was a guy QB C.J. Stroud pounded the table for. He has a chance to immediately make an impact in the Texans’ porous WR room.

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks Home | Seattle Seahawks –

Photo Cred:

Thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks had some of the most significant draft capital in the league heading into 2023. They spent that capital well, selecting CB Devon Witherspoon 5th overall and OLB Derrick Hall 37th. Witherspoon projects as a starter alongside rookie-phenom CB Tarik Woolen in the Seahawks’ secondary.

Hall should be a critical part of Seattle’s Edge rotation as a rookie and was their only notable offseason addition to a struggling unit. With their own picks, the Seahawks grabbed WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba 20th overall and RB Zach Charbonnet in round two. Smith-Njigba can make an impact in year one, operating in the slot while WRs D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett take the attention from the defense. Charbonnet forms a deadly RB duo with last year’s second-rounder Kenneth Walker and can start in his place if injuries arise.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers on the Forbes NFL Team Valuations List

Photo Cred: Forbes

The Steelers had two first-round picks in this year’s draft. This was due to Miami’s first-round forfeit and trading Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears. Pittsburgh started the draft by moving over the New England Patriots to 14th overall, sniping OT Broderick Jones from the New York Jets. Jones filled a massive need for the Steelers. He was the best remaining tackle at the top of the draft. Jones is seen as a project pick and should get the chance to learn the NFL from day one as their starting LT. CB Joey Porter Jr., son of former Steelers LB Joey Porter, was their next pick. Porter Jr. was seen as a consensus first-round corner, making this selection easy for Pittsburgh at the top of day two.

DT Keeanu Benton was their other second-round pick, the third player from this draft expected to start as a rookie. Benton should be able to come in immediately as the team’s NT and help fix their previous issues stopping the run. Pittsburgh’s great draft didn’t stop there, as they selected TE Darnell Washington at the end of the third round. Washington will be their TE2 behind Pat Freiermuth, and while he won’t make the same year-one impact as the rest of these guys, I had to highlight a great draft pick the team made.

New York Giants

New York Giants Football - Giants News, Scores, Stats, Rumors & More | ESPN

Photo Cred: ESPN

The Giants have the draft capital or sheer amount of draft picks the teams above them did. I wanted to pick a team that should have significant contributions from their rookie class despite your more typical number of draft picks. On day 1, they moved up one spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars to select CB Deonte Banks 24th overall. Banks has a massive long-term upside as a CB1. He’ll start his rookie year opposite CB Adoree’ Jackson on a team looking to make it back to the playoffs.

The Giants’ second-round pick, C John Michael Schmitz, was a steal and will be an instant starter along their offensive line. Their third-round pick, WR Jalin Hyatt, should be able to get on the field his rookie year as a deep-ball threat the team currently lacks. Their sixth-round pick, CB Tre Hawkins, is lighting it up in training camp for them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.