2023 NFL Draft: AFC East Rookie Impact & Stat Projections
The NFL Draft dust has settled! It’s time to take a look at how each player fits and what should be expected from each selection in year one.
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No offseason quite competes with the NFL. The excitement runs deep, as teams have welcomed new rookies to the facility and minicamps are underway. Newfound hope has arisen with spring and all 32 organizations will enter the summer with the optimism of a fresh start.
We kickoff our ‘Rookie Impact’ series in the AFC East. It feels like an ‘All-in’ season for Josh Allen and Bills Mafia. Buffalo has won a remarkable 47 games over the past four seasons but have been unable to reach the Super Bowl. They made a move up to target tight end Dalton Kincaid and added another starter on the offensive line in O’Cyrus Torrence. They remain the beast of the east.
However, there is a new sheriff in ‘The Big Apple’ and Gang Green has ‘super’ aspirations as well with Aaron Rodgers in the saddle. The Jets draft was somewhat questionable, as they did not select any projected starters, rather they placed an emphasis on depth. Entering his second season as headman in Miami, Mike McDaniel showed he is capable of producing a prolific offensive attack when Tua Tagovailoa is healthy; they appear to be wild card contenders.
Lastly, the legend of Bill Belichick still resides in New England and the Patriots must be accounted for. In fact, they were awarded the highest overall impact rating amongst all AFC East teams. The Patriots figure to linger around .500 once again but shaky quarterback play and poor schematics on offense has left this organization floundering since the departure of Tom Brady.
Below is a breakdown of how each selection of the 2023 NFL Draft fits in with their new teams for the AFC East, plus projections on how they might perform in year one. In addition, we have awarded an overall impact rating for each rookie class. Up Next: AFC North
Player Rating Impact Scale: 10 – 9.5 = All Pro Impact | 9.4 – 8.9 = Pro Bowl Impact | 8.8 – 8.0 = Starter Impact | 7.9 – 7.0 = Rotational Impact | 6.9 – 6.0 = Backup Impact | 5.9 – Below = Practice Squad Impact
BUFFALO BILLS | [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 67.5]
Rd1.No.25 Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah: The Bills traded up for his services because they felt he can make a difference. Kincaid should eventually overtake Dawson Knox as the starter but expect to see more 12 personnel either way. Projection: 42 catches, 448 yards, 5 touchdowns | Impact Factor = 7.9
Rd2.No.59 O'Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida: Would appear to be their greatest impact player. Torrence should challenge Ryan Bates for the starting RG job. Projection: Barring injury, Torrence should start all 17 games. | Impact Factor: 8.2
Rd3.No.91 Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane: Adds to the depth of the linebacker unit, Williams can step in at any spot but will likely be the main backup to Matt Milano at WILL. Projection: Will have opportunity to be active for every game, 30 tackles, four tackles for loss. | Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd5.No.150 Justin Shorter, WR, Florida: Will have to prove himself on special teams but with such a thin wide receiver group, Shorter could see some valuable reps down the stretch. Projection: 18 catches 265 yards 2 touchdowns. | Impact Factor: 6.2
Rd7.No.230 Nick Broeker, OG, Ole Miss: A limited athlete, Broeker can be a valuable swingman at the two guard spots and has experience at tackle if needed to fill-in. Projection: Sees action in 10 games as a reserve. | Impact Factor: 6.1
Rd7.No.252 Alex Austin, CB, Oregon State: Things got sticky down the stretch once again with depth in the secondary, so Austin could see field action as a rookie but Buffalo would best be served if he didn’t. Projection: Four games played, five tackles. | Impact Factor: 5.8
MIAMI DOLPHINS | [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 68]
Rd2.No.51 Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina: The Dolphins had to wait 50 picks to make their first selection but made the most of it with Smith, who will provide much-needed depth. Projection: 17 games played, three starts, 21 tackles, one interception. Impact Factor: 7.7
Rd3.No.84 Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M: Welcome to Miami Trice. It will be a backfield committee approach with Jeff Wilson likely the lead back, an injury-prone Raheem Mostert as backup A, sprinkled in with Achane as backup B option. Projection: Rotational back with 70 carries, 340 rushing yards, 204 receiving yards, four touchdowns. Impact Factor: 7.2
Rd6.No.197 Elijah Higgins, WR, Stanford: A long, athletic pass-catcher, Higgins will attempt to make the switch from wideout to tight end. He’ll need to pack on some weight and refine his blocking, it may take a year or two of seasoning until we see the fruits of labor. Projection: Five games played, 13 catches, 198 receiving yards, one touchdown. Impact Factor: 6.2
Rd7.No.238 Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan: Another developmental player who could pay dividends down the road, Hayes owns a solid frame and sound fundamentals at a vital position. Projection: Will likely see limited game action; practice squad candidate. Impact Factor: 6.0
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 71]
Rd1.No.17 Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon: A new CB1 in New England? Many had Gonzalez pegged for the top ten. He will fit the defensive system well and is viewed as one of the biggest impact selections of the first round. Projection: 17 games played and started, 42 tackles, 10 pass deflections, two interceptions. Impact Factor: 8.6
Rd2.No.46 Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech: New England tends to mix and match the front seven and White adds another body to throw into the rotation. Somewhat of a late bloomer, ‘Billy Ball’ will put him in situations to succeed. Projection: 14 games played, 30 tackles, three and a half sacks, five tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 7.3
Rd3.No.76 Marte Mapu, LB, Sacramento State: This will go down as one of the biggest steals of the draft. Mapu is the definition of snub; omitted by the scouting services, left out in the cold by the combine committee, injured doing his bench press at pro day…just call him Rodney Dangerfield. Projection: 17 games played and started, 87 tackles, two sacks, seven tackles for loss, one interception. Impact Factor: 8.4
Rd4.No.107 Jake Andrews, OL, Troy: A technician in hand placement and combat, Andrews brings position flexibility, able to backup all three positions on the interior. Projection: 11 games played. Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd4.No.112 Chad Ryland, K, Maryland: When investing a fourth round pick on a kicker, you would imagine that the job is his to lose heading into training camp. Projection: Makes 31-of-35 field goal attempts, with a long of 58 yards. Impact Factor: 8.1
Rd4.No.117 Sidy Sow, OG, Eastern Michigan: The Patriots significantly upgraded the interior of the offensive line, Sow is a refrigerator who can get into the second level and will compete for a starting job down the road. Projection: 15 games played as backup. Impact Factor: 6.5
Rd5.No.144 Antonio Mafi, OG, UCLA: See above; Mafi doesn’t check off all the measureables but brings a nasty chip and plays through the whistle, his competitiveness is contagious. Projection: 13 games played as backup. Impact Factor: 6.4
Rd6.No.187 Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU: Possibly the biggest wildcard of the draft; Boutte was playing at a first round level two years ago and then battled injuries, offseason turmoil, while turning in an abysmal performance at the combine. However, the potential is buried underneath all those concerns. Projection: 26 catches, 392 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Impact Factor: 6.6
Rd6.No.192 Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State: An entire new special teams unit looks to be in store which always brings a learning curve. The ‘BB Gun’ shoots deep. Projection: Plays and starts all 17 games, punt net average of 43.4. Impact Factor: 8.1
Rd6.No.210 Demario Douglas, WR, Liberty: Again, a special teams play. No one emphasizes the third phase of football more than Belichick and Douglas will compete as a return man. Projection: Moonlights as kick and punt returner sparingly, roster spot remains cloudy. Impact Factor: 6.0
Rd6.No.214 Ameer Speed, DB, Michigan State: Under the radar on most boards, the Patriots nabbed a near clone to Gonzalez in terms of size, speed, frame and versatility. Projection: 12 games played, 23 tackles, four pass deflections. Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd7.No.245 Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State: A ‘Prime U’ protégé, Bolden was the lone HBCU alumni drafted and proved he can hold his own against the upper level of competition during his week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Projection: 10 games played, 15 tackles, five pass deflections. Impact Factor: 6.2
NEW YORK JETS | [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 69]
Rd1.No.15 Will McDonald IV, OLB, Iowa State: Credit the Jets for staying true to their board. While ‘Mac4’ didn’t address a pressing need, he’ll provide Robert Saleh with another pass-rusher to throw the kitchen sink at opposing quarterbacks. Projection: 15 games played, 22 tackles, four and a half sacks, seven tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 7.4
Rd2.No.43 Joe Tippman, C, Wisconsin: New quarterback, new city, new system, add new center to the mix with the arrival of Aaron Rodgers. Tippman tips the scales at over 6-foot-5 and is one of the tallest centers we have seen but will be counted on as a key cog. Projection: Expected to start all 17 games, barring injury. Impact Factor: 8.4
Rd4.No.120 Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh: We have seen the offensive line depth just doom this team in recent seasons. The best attribute about Warren is his versatility—he has played every position along the offensive line and will likely serve as a swingman backup. Projection: Active for 12 games. Impact Factor:6.5
Rd5.No.143 Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh: This pick was a bit surprising. Abanikanda is one of the fastest players in the draft but New York was already three-deep with dependable options in the backfield. He might best be served as a return man but the team did sign Mecole Hardman. Projection: Will be on standby in case of injuries, 450 total all-purpose yards (rushing/receiving/returning). Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd6.No.184 Zaire Barnes, LB, Western Michigan: An explosive backer who flies to the football, Barnes possesses the skill-set to line up at any linebacker spot. He could compete at WILL, or backup the MIKE and SAM. Projection: 10 games played, 32 tackles, one and a half sacks, three tackles for loss. Impact Factor:6.6
Rd6.No.204 Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB, LSU: The secondary is strong on the boundary but strengthening the nickelback spot is why Bernard-Converse was chosen. Projection: He could be the main backup by default, 10 games played, 16 tackles. Impact Factor: 6.2
Have a great Monday!