The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone and it’s time to determine the winners and losers. At the end of the article, I will also include the best available players left on the board for day 2.
Honorable Mentions – Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots
Philadelphia came into the night with 2 first round picks at 10 and 30, seeming content with sitting tight and getting what comes. The first 8 picks went and none were Jalen Carter and with Chicago sitting at 9, Philly seized the day and swapped picks to secure the best player in the draft in Carter. At 30, they doubled up in the front 7 and took another Georgia defender in Nolan Smith, who rose up draft boards after a great combine before ultimately falling down to 30 for Philly. Howie Roseman hit the ball out of the park adding even more depth and power to terrorize opposing offenses for years to come with already having Sweat, Cox, Davis, Graham, Reddick to get after the QB.
A big free agency class for Houston that included veterans Robert Woods, Jimmie Ward, Sheldon Rankins, and Devin Singletary, as well as a starting TE in Dalton Schultz who broke out last season with the in-state rival Cowboys. They followed that up with a great draft that included getting their future franchise QB in CJ Stroud at #2, before following that up with a trade back up for #3 to grab Will Anderson to fill the void left by JJ Watt and rush the other side opposite of Jonathan Greenard. The move back up to 3 and losing their first next year makes it seem like Houston is going to try and make a run at the division in a loaded AFC where wild card spots will be tough to earn.
Despite passing on Jalen Carter, I still feel like Seattle attacked positional needs and got better. At 5, it appeared that Devon Witherspoon was their guy all along and they were very excited to be able to get him and add him to an already talented secondary with Woolen, Adams, and Diggs already a part of the back end. Then at 20, a spot I had them going DB in my mock but since they addressed that at 5, I had no clue where they would go and was leaning towards an OT, instead they got the best WR in the draft in Jaxon Smith-Njigba to slide into the slot with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the outside. The offense has potential to be one of the best as they made a good receiving core better, getting Ken Walker III back, and hoping Geno can recreate his success after giving him an extension. Really hoping Seattle starts to build that OL around Charles Cross during day 2.
Dishonorable Mentions Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers
I really liked what Detroit did last season under Dan Campbell, and had high expectations for this draft as they again will look to make a push towards a playoff spot in 2023. However, they disappointed me heavily, taking a RB after trading back from 6 to 12 in Jahmyr Gibbs, while having DeAndre Swift and letting Jamaal Williams go after leading the league in TDs, which I would’ve thought showed them that you don’t need to spend a top pick on a collegiate RB. At 18 I thought they would attempt to redeem themselves but continued to make their draft worse by taking a massive reach on Jack Campell. Campell was apart of one of the best college defenses last season and found himself near the top of LB rankings in a rather weak LB class. Both the players they selected they could’ve gotten in rounds 2 and maybe even 3 for Campbell. They didn’t address bigger needs at DB with Porter Jr. and Banks on the board at 18, and Gonzalez and Forbes at 12. In an ideal world, they move up today and try and get Joey Porter Jr. and that could make their draft look a lot better.
Unlike their Texas counterpart, the Cowboys find themselves on the wrong side of this list. Dallas just missed out on Dalton Kincaid after Buffalo moved up right in front of them, but still had their choice of Mayer and Washington to select, but instead opted for Mazi Smith, an IDL from Michigan. Dallas had bigger needs in my opinion, at IOL, and DB, with Brian Branch on the board and a better prospect at IDL in Bryan Breese available. Yes, they addressed a need, but with bigger needs and better options on the board, they find themselves as a day 1 loser.
Boy did Will Levis get embarrased yesterday. The guy was a top 5-10 pick in just about every major networks mock drafts and had less than a 0.1% chance to be available after day 1. I don’t really have an explanation as to why that happened, especially with all these NFL analysts and draft experts having such good things to say about him as to why he’s still available. While I myself had Levis falling to 19, I didn’t have a lot of great things to say about him outside of his measurables. He didn’t produce at the level a typical first round QB would in college, he’s not very accurate, and he has plenty of mechanical issues to work on before he’s a true NFL level QB. I think a team like Seattle, or Minnesota should take the chance on Levis as they both have older QB’s in Smith and Cousins and are able to give Levis the time to learn and improve before throwing him out there.
Best Available Day 2
Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame
Will Levis QB Kentucky
Brian Branch S Alabama
Joey Porter Jr. Penn State
John Michael Schmitz IOL Minnesota
Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee
Drew Sanders LB Arkansas
Keion White EDGE Georgia Tech
Matthew Bergeron OT Syracuse
Cam Smith DB South Carolina
That’ll wrap up my NFL Draft Round 1 Winners and Losers, comment below your opinions and whether you agree or disagree on my takes.