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2023 RZL First Round Draft Grades (21-32)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to rzl-football.com

Here is the last installment of my series covering the first round of the 2023 RZL Draft. Again, please read my disclaimers from the first article. Enjoy!

1.21 – OLB Sam Powell, Redskins. Rookie Sam Powell definitely has the attributes to be an impact player in the league. He’s got great speed (82 SPD) for someone so tall (6’5”). My only knock on Powell is that he wasn’t the best outside linebacker in the draft, and taking him with Joe Taylor still on the board feels like a big miss. GRADE: B-

1.22 – QB Greg Bryant, Bucs. The Bucs stole MLB Johnston at 1.18 and do it again at 1.22, taking the best QB in the draft. How do they do it? Not that they need a replacement for Dudley Hanson just now, but if a Top 5 talent drops to you at 1.22, you gotta take him. GRADE: A

1.23 – OLB Joe Taylor, Lions. Taylor was, in my book, the best outside linebacker in the draft. He’s got the size of a middle linebacker and speed and strength better than most defensive ends. The only knock on Taylor is his lack of awareness, but he is sure to develop into a solid pro. GRADE: A

1.24 – DE Sam Phillips, Jets. This year’s class of defensive ends was pretty weak, so getting any value here is a good thing. Initially I had Phillips very high on my draft board, mostly due to his incredible combo of speed (82 SPD) and strength (84 STR). However, his average agility and acceleration may limit his production. Still, a good pickup this late in the draft. GRADE: A-

1.25 – OLB Ryan Carroll, Raiders. Outside linebackers are a tough position to draft in the first round and you really need to make sure you get someone who can be a difference maker. Carroll may be that kind of player and brings the best speed of any player at the position. He also has good strength, which you often lose with speed. GRADE: B+

1.26 – CB Willie Saunders, Steelers. The Steelers get themselves quite a find at the end of the first round. Saunders lacks elite size (5’11”, 208 lbs) but was the second best CB on my board. Saunders possesses elite speed (94 SPD) and good hands. He’s not the best tackler out there, but a tremendous value at 1.26. GRADE: A+

1.27 – HB Jacob Carroll, Packers. Not to pick on the Packers whose first two picks I panned, but I don’t love this selection either. Carroll is the fastest back in the draft (97 SPD) but also is only 5’6”. Though he has amazing agility and acceleration, he can’t break tackles (69 BTK). He seems best suited to returning kicks (though he didn’t do so in week 1), but does a team that finishes 4-12 the last two seasons need a kick returner this bad? GRADE: D-

1.28 – WR Warren Carson, Chiefs. Carson was initially the third WR on my board, though he slipped before (and after) the draft. He’s got a good frame at 6’2”, and has good speed (91 SPD) and other attributes, but there’s not exceptional about him. Still, he’ll likely be a solid pro with a good career. GRADE: B

1.29 – FS Henry Boone, Rams. As mentioned previously, I’m not a big fan of drafting safeties high, but make exceptions for rare specimens. Boone isn’t all that rare, in my opinion. I liked Barton and Campbell more than Boone and think he’d have been available deep into the second round, if not later. Boone has good size and does possess elite acceleration (94 ACC), but there’s too many other players who were better. GRADE: C-

1.30 – WR Todd Moreno, Eagles. Moreno is the kind of player I rank high but hope he doesn’t fall to me. However, the more I look, the more I like. Moreno is one of the taller WRs in the draft at 6’3” but has slightly below average speed (89 SPD), which can be developed. What’s intriguing is his nice jumping skills (91JMP) and ability to break tackles (65 BTK). He may be a sleeper. GRADE: B+

1.31 – HB Louis Forman, Lions. 2023 was a tough year to need a HB in the draft. There was no consensus top pick and the best talent was somewhat wanting. Many teams were scared off by Forman’s lack of good speed (86 SPD), though he does have above average strength (74 STR). Forman has the best carrying and break tackles skills, but in most drafts there’s no way he’d be a first rounder. GRADE: C+

1.32 – HB Craig Leer, Cardinals. I went back and forth as to which back, Forman or Leer, was the best in the class. Leer is faster and more agile, but may have some fumbling issues (69 CAR). But at the end of the day, neither of them would have been taken in the second round in last year’s draft. GRADE: C+
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