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2023 NFL Draft: Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith among Day 1's top value picks

The Next Gen Stats Team uses its draft model to identify the five best value picks in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Jalen Carter
Georgia · DT · Junior
Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 · No. 9 overall
  • Production Score: 86
  • Athleticism Score: 83 (Estimated)

The Georgia defender was originally NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's top prospect back in January, but off-field concerns -- Carter was booked and released on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing on March 1, stemming from an investigation into a fatal crash -- impacted his stock during the draft process. He entered Round 1 as DJ's No. 6 overall prospect, coming off the board at No. 9 after the Eagles traded up one spot with the Bears to take him.

Carter, the highest-ranked defensive tackle by the NGS overall draft score, possesses the game tape (86 production score) and movement skills at 314 pounds (83 estimated athleticism score) to become one of the NFL's elite defensive tackles. For the second consecutive year, the Eagles have chosen a first-round defensive tackle from Georgia who also ranks as the top defensive tackle in the NGS draft model -- Jordan Davis’ 84 overall draft score ranked first in the 2022 DT class.

Christian Gonzalez
Oregon · CB · Junior
New England Patriots
Round 1 · No. 17 overall
  • Production Score: 85
  • Athleticism Score: 88

The Next Gen Stats No. 3 "can’t-miss prospect" -- and 10th-ranked player on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board -- fell right into the laps of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, even after the front office traded down three spots (from No. 14 to No. 17). Gonzalez's stellar 2022 season at Oregon (85 production score) and outstanding combine performance (88 athleticism score), along with ideal size and length, have solidified his status as one of the most well-rounded cornerbacks in this year's class, according to the NGS Draft Model. The former track star showcased his elite athleticism with a blazing-fast 4.38-second 40-yard dash and an impressive 41.5-inch vertical jump in Indy. Gonzalez is the only cornerback prospect in the 2023 class to achieve an 85-plus score in both athleticism and production, per the model.

Deonte Banks
Maryland · CB · Junior (RS)
New York Giants
Round 1 · No. 24 overall
  • Production Score: 72
  • Athleticism Score: 98

Banks (6-foot, 197 pounds) earned one of the top NGS athleticism scores (98) among prospects to work out at the 2023 combine after posting a 4.35 40-yard dash, 11-foot-4 broad jump and 42-inch vertical. In fact, his score ranks fourth among all cornerback prospects over the last decade. Banks’ fusion of size and speed is even more valuable in an NFC East division that features the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Terry McLaurin and CeeDee Lamb. Banks, who played press on 53 percent of his coverage snaps last season, per PFF, fits well in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s press-heavy scheme.

Dalton Kincaid
Utah · TE · Senior
Buffalo Bills
Round 1 · No. 25 overall
  • Production Score: 90
  • Athleticism Score: 77 (estimated)

Daniel Jeremiah’s ninth-ranked prospect is heading to Buffalo, where he'll be a crucial pass-catching weapon for Josh Allen and the Bills' offense. General manager Brandon Beane traded up two spots (from No. 27 to No. 25) in a deal with the Jaguars to secure the highly productive prospect. Kincaid caught eight touchdown passes in back-to-back seasons, becoming one of the key cogs in a Utah offense that put on a show against USC for the Pac-12 title. (Kincaid had 16 catches for 234 yards against the Trojans.) Kincaid entered the draft with the highest NGS production score among tight ends in a historically talented group.

Nolan Smith
Georgia · Edge · Senior
Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 · No. 30 overall
  • Production Score: 78
  • Athleticism Score: 85

Eagles GM Howie Roseman landed another steal at the end of the first round, snagging a prospect several draft analysts thought could come off the board at No. 10 overall. A Haason Reddick clone, Smith is capable of playing various positions along the Eagles' defensive front. He clocked the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.39 seconds) of any edge defender at the NFL Scouting Combine since 2003, and posted top-5 percentile marks among his position group in the 10-yard split (1.52 seconds), broad jump (10-foot-8) and vertical jump (41.5 inches). For the second consecutive year, Roseman adds two elite front-seven prospects from one of the most dominant defenses in college football.