Skip to main content

2023 NFL Draft: Ten rookies in the best situations to succeed in Year 1 and beyond

With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview, former NFL personnel executive Marc Ross surveyed the landing spots of this year's prospects, ultimately identifying 10 rookies in the most favorable positions to succeed in Year 1 and beyond.

Bryce Young
Alabama · QB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 1 overall

Sometimes the first overall pick gets thrown into a mess, but Young joins a franchise that's worked hard to build a nice foundation this offseason. The Panthers hired an experienced coaching staff with head coach Frank Reich, senior assistant Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, among others. They did a lot of work in free agency, keeping their offensive line intact and signing a slew of talented offensive playmakers -- including Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark and Hayden Hurst -- to help the rookie signal-caller succeed. Young is a bright player who should thrive over time in this environment.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Ohio State · WR

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 20 overall

Smith-Njigba is a pro-ready receiver who should enjoy immediate success in the slot with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett manning the perimeters. This is the role in which JSN excelled at Ohio State in 2021, primarily working the middle of the field with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson on the outside. Seattle employs a run-first offense with a healthy amount of play-action shots downfield, so we should see a healthy dose of big plays from the rookie wideout.

Jalen Carter
Georgia · DT

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 9 overall

Carter joins Georgia North, a perfect landing spot for a prospect whose character concerns clouded his pre-draft process. Carter is an elite talent who has the opportunity to continue developing around a bunch of familiar faces. Also, playing alongside -- and most importantly, learning from -- highly respected veterans like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham is a godsend for the 22-year-old. The immense talent across Philadelphia's roster will allow Carter to adjust to the NFL at his own pace in a great environment.

Cam Smith
South Carolina · CB

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 51 overall

Smith had the talent to sneak into the first round, but instead came off the board in Round 2 -- and landed with one of the best secondaries in the league. The long corner joins a Vic Fangio-led defense that features the likes of Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey and Jevon Holland on the back end. The South Carolina product has nice ball skills and good anticipation. With seasoned veterans around him, Smith is in an ideal situation where he can learn and flourish.

Dalton Kincaid
Utah · TE

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 25 overall

Josh Allen was fired up about the selection of Kincaid, and that's a great place to start. Kincaid could enjoy similar production to Dawson Knox in Year 1, though the rookie boasts much more talent and natural ability. The Bills desperately need another plus playmaker to pair with Stefon Diggs, and Kincaid can be just that, especially with Diggs garnering so much defensive attention.

Joey Porter Jr.
Penn State · CB

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 32 overall

Porter lands with the team his father played for, which is the feel-good story now, but the youngster has a chance to carve out a great career of his own in an ideal situation. Porter brings size (6-foot-2 1/2, 193 pounds), speed and the skill set to thrive in press coverage, so learning alongside veteran Patrick Peterson, who boasts a similar skill set, should suit him well. Plus, the pressure Pittsburgh gets with its pass rush will play to Porter's strengths. 

Hendon Hooker
Tennessee · QB

DRAFTED: Round 3, No. 68 overall

Hooker is essentially afforded a redshirt year in Detroit. He gets time to fully recover from the knee injury, time to learn the offense -- and time to learn from a similar player in starter Jared Goff -- before potentially taking the reins down the road. Once Hooker's back to full health, I see a dual-threat quarterback who possesses the intangibles and football IQ to thrive at the next level.

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 23 overall

My favorite receiver in this year's draft, Addison gets the luxury of being the "forgotten" WR2 opposite reigning Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson. Addison is pro-ready, polished and has great ball skills and feel for the game. He'll step right in and be playmaker for Kevin O'Connell and the Vikings' offense.

Luke Musgrave
Oregon State · TE

DRAFTED: Round 2, No. 42 overall

Green Bay has done a good job bringing in playmakers to help with Jordan Love's ascension. Musgrave is an uber-athletic, 6-6 tight end who could end up being Love's top target in Matt LaFleur's offense, thanks to his ability to separate and gain yards after the catch. In the run game, he'll aid Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon with his reliable blocking.

Devon Witherspoon
Illinois · CB

DRAFTED: Round 1, No. 5 overall

Witherspoon was CB1 in this draft class and joins a Seattle team looking for the second coming of the Legion of Boom, with last year's rookie sensation, Tariq Woolen, manning the other CB spot. Witherspoon has great instincts, plays the ball well and is an aggressive tackler -- all traits Pete Carroll loves

Follow Marc Ross on Twitter.

Related Content