Will McDonald IV

Five Worst Picks in the 2023 NFL Draft

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Even as we prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s time to look back at the worst NFL Draft picks in 2023.

In fairness, it’s probably too soon to call anyone drafted last year a complete bust. But this is a good reminder that anyone can go from a highly-rated prospect to one of the biggest NFL Draft busts ever in a short time.

Worst Draft Picks in the 2023 NFL Draft

So who were the players who were drafted high last year but fell flat on their faces as rookies? These are the players who will be considered the biggest recent NFL Draft mistakes unless they can turn things around in 2024.

Again, there is still time for these players to turn things around, but the pressure is on because here are the worst NFL Draft picks in 2023.

Bryce Young, Panthers

First of all, we’re not saying that Bryce Young is a complete bust. He clearly wasn’t set up for success as a rookie in Carolina. But the Panthers had the first-overall pick and chose Young over C.J. Stroud.


Just look at what Stroud did as a rookie; he looks like he’ll spend 10-plus years as a top-flight quarterback in the NFL.

Obviously, we can’t say the same about Young at this point. Based on that, it’s hard not to say that Carolina made a mistake and that taking Young over Stroud is one of the worst picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Emmanuel Forbes, Commanders

Oddly enough, Emmanuel Forbes looked good during the season’s first few weeks. But that initial success was short-lived. By Week 5, Forbes was benched and needed a little bit of time to earn back his starting job.

During the season, Forbes also missed a few games because of an injury and got ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit. To call his rookie campaign uneven would probably be giving him too much credit. While there is some hope for him to turn things around, the Commanders drafted Forbes with Christian Gonzalez, Deonte Banks, and Joey Porter still available, making this a bad pick.

Will McDonald IV, Jets

Not so surprisingly, the Jets appear to have made a bad choice in the draft, using the 15th overall pick in 2023 on Will McDonald IV. In his defense, McDonald was playing behind some talented linemen.


However, one would have expected more than three sacks from a three-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection. While there were some encouraging moments from McDonald, he never played more than 20 snaps in a game, which is a sign that he just wasn’t ready to contribute.

Perhaps equally telling, the Jets traded for Haason Reddick earlier this offseason, a sign that they don’t expect McDonald to take a big step forward in 2024.

Quentin Johnston, Chargers

In college Quentin Johnston was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection twice and played a huge role in TCU’s run to the College Football Playoff in 2022. But he fell flat on his face as a rookie despite having a proven quarterback in Justin Herbert throwing him the ball.

Johnston averaged just 11.3 yards per catch, struggled to create separation against NFL corners, and also had some costly drops. He finished the season with just two touchdowns and only one game in which Johnston had more than 55 receiving yards. With Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison being selected immediately after Johnston, it’s clear the Chargers made a bad choice.

Tyree Wilson, Raiders

At first glance, Tyree Wilson looks like someone who could end up being one of the all-time greatest busts. He could potentially reach Aaron Maybin levels of being a bust. As a top-10 pick who was a First-Team All-American at Texas Tech, the Raiders were expecting an immediate impact from Wilson.

Instead, they got a player who couldn’t even work his way into the starting lineup on a team that finished 8-9. Wilson accumulated just 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks over 14 games and rarely showed signs of being a player worthy of a top-10 selection.

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