The 2023 NFL Draft was a historic one for the Carolina Panthers after trading up to select Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick. Carolina ended up selecting just five players in this draft - one in each of the first five rounds - and the individual draft grades for each selection quickly hit some parts of the internet.
Here’s the summary from the Panthers 2023 rookie class from Pro Football Network (PFN), CBS Sports (CBS), Bleacher Report (BR), Walter Football (WF), SB Nation (SBN, first three rounds only), and Sporting News (SN, first three rounds):
Round 1, No. 1 - Bryce Young, quarterback, Alabama
Composite grade: A-
Most graders were high on the selection of Bryce Young. Despite his small stature, most graders applauded his decision making and creativity in the pocket. Young received high marks for his intangibles in leading an offense and for being the best overall quarterback in this draft. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gave him the lowest grade at a B- because despite his talent it would be an “outlier” for a quarterback of Young’s size to thrive in the NFL, which is a fair point.
Grades by source: A- (PFN), B- (CBS), A (BR), B+ (WF), B+ (SBN), A (SN)
Round 2, No. 39 - Jonathan Mingo, wide receiver, Ole Miss
Composite grade: B
Lots of “A” and “B” grades for the Panthers second round pick, but the D grade from Sporting News blares like a siren. Most graders love Mingo’s size at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and his ability to grind out yards after the catch. He also got high marks for his blocking ability, an added bonus for a receiver. The extremely low grade from Sporting News wasn’t about deficiencies in Mingo as a player, per se, but more of the Panthers using the No. 39 pick to acquire him when he likely would have been available later in the draft.
Grades by source: A (PFN), B- (CBS), A (BR), B+ (WF), B (SBN), D (SN)
Round 3, No. 80 - DJ Johnson, edge, Oregon
Composite grade: C
Oof. The draft graders destroyed GM Scott Fitterer and the Panthers brain trust for trading up 13 spots to draft DJ Johnson at No. 80. It’s rare to see a third round pick get as many C and D grades as Johnson received. Most draft experts love Johnson’s versatility as he played multiple positions in college, including tight end. He’s a superior athlete, but it’s more than concerning that he isn’t a specialist quite yet at any one position. The words “raw” and “developmental” were used a few times to describe Johnson, and trading up to No. 80 (sacrificing No. 132 in the fourth round) to draft a project was viewed as a bad move.
Grades by source: C (PFN), D (CBS), C (BR), C+ (WF), C- (SBN), C (SN)
Round 4, No. 114 - Chandler Zavala, guard, NC State
Composite grade: B+
The draft punditry is high on Zavala. CBS Sports went so far as to call him “an instant starter at OG”. Pro Football Network said the argument could be made that he’s an upgrade over Brady Christensen at guard. His strength and ability to open lanes in the running game were also noted. His athleticism popped as well with a Relative Athletic Score of 9.50. That said, Bleacher Report mentioned he only started one year at the FBS level and has dealt with injuries throughout this college career, which could limit him.
Grades by source: A- (PFN), A- (CBS), B (WF), B (BR)
Round 5, No. 145 - Jammie Robinson, safety, Florida State
Composite grade: B
While it’s fairly rare for fifth round picks to become regular contributors on the 53-man roster, there seems to be a lot to like about Jammie Robinson. Pro Football Network highlighted his versatility to play both nickel corner as well as safety. While this is subjective, more than one site highlighted his energy and effort. CBS noted his slight stature at 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds as a negative and actually called him “tiny”, but they also said he plays bigger than he is.
Grades by source: A- (PFN), B- (CBS), B (WF), B (BR)
What do you think, Panthers fans? Any grades that look too high or too low to you? Which pick or picks are you most excited about?