The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. In one of the more mysterious drafts—especially toward the top of it—there were a handful of winners and losers. Below, we'll diagnose five winners and losers of the NFL Draft, but believe us, we could've done more.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
With the No. 4 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. Outside of Alabama's Bryce Young, this was the next-best quarterback in the draft when considering the upside. Richardson is the most athletic quarterback in the NFL with high rushing upside and enters into an offense headed up by Shane Steichen, the same guy who helped Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts turn in an MVP-caliber season in 2022-23 as his offensive coordinator.
Even better, the Colts didn't have to move up from No. 4 to get him. They stuck to their guns, despite the Arizona Cardinals pulling off a trade down from No. 3; it was to the Houston Texans who took a quarterback one pick earlier.
The Colts have quarterback Gardner Minshew on the roster, so Richardson doesn't necessarily need to start Week 1, but with Steichen as his head coach, he very well could. Phenomenal pick while not needing to surrender any draft capital.
Loser: Detroit Lions
The Lions began the draft with No. 6 and No. 18 overall. After the Seattle Seahawks took cornerback Devon Witherspoon, this could've caused the team to trade down to No. 12 overall, where the Cardinals were selected after making their trade with the Texans. The Lions gave up No. 6 and No. 81 for No. 12, No. 34, and No. 168.
It's No. 6 for 12 and 34. https://t.co/SbsOeFVNv4
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 28, 2023
Let me say this—I love the trade. I love adding more top 50 talent. What's disappointing is the players that were selected where they were at No. 12 and No. 18. The Lions took Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs (12) and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (18). Neither of these guys is a bad player, but it's a tougher pill to swallow when you look at the board and what they passed on, and yes, factoring in positional value.
At No. 12 and No. 18, the Lions had their pick of the receivers. At No. 12, they could've taken Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez who went No. 17 overall to the New England Patriots. Imagine if they left this first round with Gonzalez and, say, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, or Jordan Addison?
The Gibbs selection signals that the team is prepared to move on from D'Andre Swift, but they also have David Montgomery on the roster. Gibbs is a fantastic player with Alvin Kamara-like ability. Still, he could've been had six picks later at No. 18 overall while you selected a higher value position.
As for Campbell, he's a pure middle linebacker at six-foot-four and change. This is a player the Lions could've gotten in the second round, and they signed Alex Anzalone.
Again, the players are fine, but where they were selected is a head-scratcher.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
OK, Monti Ossenfort. We see you.
What an incredible display of draft board manipulation.
The Cardinals began the draft with the No. 3 overall selection and have been a team projected to trade down. Well, they managed to find a partner with the Texans. For the No. 3 and No. 105 overall selections, the Cardinals received No. 12, No. 33, and a first and third-round pick in 2024.
What. A. Haul.
From here, the Cardinals traded up from No. 12, sending that pick and their original second-round selection from No. 6 and No. 81 overall.
1st in 2024
3rd in 2024
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 28, 2023
With that No. 6 overall pick, they took Paris Johnson Jr., their new franchise left tackle and a player highly endorsed by quarterback Kyler Murray.
So, the Cardinals still have a first and second-round selection this year and picked up another first and third-rounder next year from a team that may need to pick higher despite adding quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson.
This was incredibly impressive by the Cardinals.
Loser: Los Angeles Chargers
Using the word "loser" might be a tad strong here, but this is simply a case of picking who we believe is not the best receiver remaining on the board.
One pick before this, at No. 20 overall, the Seattle Seahawks took Smith-Njigba. This left the Los Angeles Chargers with multiple options, including three receivers and some secondary help.
They opted for TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston.
Johnston will play on the outside opposite Mike Williams. While he's big and fast at around six-foot-three, Johnston has some issues with his game. He tends to have too many body catches and doesn't go up and get the contested balls as much as you'd like.
Quentin Johnston has body catches like this littered all over his tape
This is still an awesome play, but not attacking the ball at the catch point won?t work all that often in the NFL
Turns should-be catches into drops, pass breakups, or even INT?s pic.twitter.com/e4oHR7KT7p
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) January 23, 2023
He's somewhat similar to Mike Williams. The thought would be to get a guy unlike Williams or Keenan Allen, such as Zay Flowers, who can be used in various ways. Again, "loser" is a strong term here, but there were better players on the board.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles—yes, the team that is the defending NFC Champions—had a dumb draft, and we mean that in the absolute best way possible. They had No. 10 and No. 30 heading into it. They left with two Georgia defensive linemen, Jalen Carter, and Nolan Smith.
All they had to do was move from No. 10 to No. 9 while giving up a 2024 fourth-rounder to make it happen. The Eagles lost Javon Hargrave in the offseason and have already replaced him and then some.
We're still shocked the NFL allowed the Eagles to have this incredible draft. Speechless.
Loser: Las Vegas Raiders
Very few players in this draft have the athletic/measurement profile that Texas Tech Tyree Wilson has. A raw prospect with a wingspan north of 86 inches, there's a lot to like about Wilson, but he's a massive projection. He joins a team with edge rushers Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby, who should be able to help him along.
The Raiders have several needs on their team, so that a trade-down wouldn't have been a bad idea here.
The main issue with this pick is that the Raiders seemingly always take these high-upside players, and they never pan out. Wilson has plenty to look forward to, but he also has a foot injury that could hamper his development.
No, this isn't the worst pick in the world, but in the context of the team that took him, it's a bit too risky for our blood.
Winner: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks stayed at No. 5 and No. 20 overall and took the two best players at their respective position. Instead, they didn't use either pick on a quarterback and improved their Geno Smith-led squad.
At No. 5 overall, they got Witherspoon to start opposite 2022 sixth-round surprise, Tariq Woolen. Witherspoon has just one year of production and is 180 pounds. Still, he does everything else so well while having the aggression the Seahawks probably fell in love with.
Moving to No. 20, the Seahawks picked up Smith-Njigba. The Seahawks offense relies heavily on their three wide receiver sets. Now they have Smith-Njigba, D.K. Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett. This is one of the top receiver trios in the league, undoubtedly.
Loser: Jacksonville Jaguars
Early in the morning on draft day, we were informed that Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson was facing a suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.
Jaguars? left tackle Cam Robinson is facing a multi-game suspension for violating the NFL?s performance-enhancing drug policy, as @_John_Shipley also reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 27, 2023
This suspension likely influenced the Jaguars selection here in the first round, who went with Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison. The Jaguars are in win-now mode with their youthful offense, so keeping quarterback Trevor Lawrence is an absolute must. A great selection here would've been defensive backs Deonte Banks or Brian Branch. Instead, the Jaguars traded back multiple times and settled up with Harrison.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) April 28, 2023
Now, Harrison isn't a bad player. He'll be able to be a tremendous pass-blocking offensive tackle right away, but that Robinson selection likely influenced this decision, which is a loss no matter what way you slice it.
Loser: New York Jets
Let's start with this—the New York Jets made a fine selection at No. 15 overall with Will McDonald IV, but they lost out on a critical aspect of building their team.
The Jets needed an offensive lineman to help protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Instead, they missed out on the top talent and allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to jump them in a trade with the division-rival New England Patriots to take Broderick Jones.
If not for the pick swap with the Packers, the Jets could've had an offensive lineman. Instead, they swap, get jumped, and lose out on the offensive line talent.
Winner: C.J. Stroud
After months of speculation, we finally learned Stroud's landing spot: the Houston Texans.
Stroud lands in a Texans system with head coach DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik who will try to implement a Kyle Shanahan-like offense. That offense values players like Stroud, who is accurate and can manage the offense. The Texans offensive line will be able to protect Stroud. Stroud's biggest flaw was against pressure in college, and the Texans should be able to protect him.
If the Texans can get their projected offensive system to click, they've found their franchise quarterback.
Loser: Will Levis
This is the biggest loser of the night. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is still on the board as we head into the second round of the NFL Draft. Once thought of as the No. 2 overall pick—or if you ask Reddit, No. 1 overall—Levis will continue to wait in the green room to hear his name called.
It's unclear what team will take the toolsy/physical freak flamethrower.
This was tough to watch.
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