With the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft now complete, let’s take a look at the NFL teams that changed the most throughout the draft, for better or for worse.
Playing chess while the league plays checkers, the Eagles have once again finessed the draft and taken two stud Georgia defensive players. As Lincoln Financial becomes a satellite campus for the Georgia Bulldogs, this is the 2nd consecutive year they’ve taken a massive DT early in the first, and waited for a Georgia linebacker later in the draft. Philly has become famous for their ability to push the pile on offense with their patented QB sneak, and are now the best positioned to defend that same play with Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter on the defensive line. Adding to Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith is a lightning-fast pass rusher that will round out the four beastly Georgia defenders in this front seven. Tip of the cap to Philly, let’s see if they can beat Patrick Mahomes this year!
Shocking the world twice in one night, the Texans locked up their future quarterback in Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and shored up their defense by acquiring Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr.
While there was plenty of noise around Stroud falling, the Texans bucked the trend and selected him at No. 2. They’ll need to surround their new QB with offensive talent, but he looks to be the start of a new offensive era in the post-Deshaun Watson Texans world.
Will Anderson Jr. was easily a top 3 player in this draft, and the Texans utilized capital acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade to acquire him. Given the emergence of Trevor Lawrence in their division, and the plethora of QB talent in the AFC, the Texans desperately needed a player who can get after the quarterback and create turnover opportunities. Anderson should be an immediate impact player for the team, and begin to create the narrative that the Texans are back. Playoffs next year? Probably not. But Nick Caserio is setting this team up for success moving forward.
Publicly considered the worst overall roster in the NFL, the Cardinals needed to trade down to acquire assets to begin their eventual rebuild. When Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud went first and second, respectively, their hopes of that trade dimmed. However, the Cardinals managed to acquire multiple picks when Houston traded up with them for Will Anderson Jr.
Later in the first round, the Cardinals traded up to grab their tackle of the future in Paris Johnson Jr. While they lost one total pick in the trade (giving three picks in return for two), they got the guy they would have taken at No. 3, and shored up a major positional need to protect Kyler Murray and create space for James Conner to run the ball.
New England Patriots
In classic fashion, Bill Belichick traded down on draft night. However, instead of drafting an unknown prospect from South Dakota State Regional Tech, he took arguably the No. 1 corner in the draft in Christian Gonzalez. The corner room is now a law firm of Jones-Jones-Jones-Gonzalez, and the Pats have set themselves up well to not only stop opposing offenses, but now have a chance to acquire more talent with the trade down. A+ move for Bill.
You’d think the Falcons would have learned from their Todd Gurley experiment that running backs are replaceable, have high turnover, and very short careers. I’m simply dumbfounded at how irresponsible this Bijan Robinson pick was by Atlanta. In an incredibly weak division that has three brand new quarterbacks, it would have made perfect sense to continue building a strong defense or set themselves up for long-term success with an offensive lineman. However, the Falcons sold out the stability of a 10-year player to add a third star piece to an anemic offense. I’m excited to see if this new look Atlanta offense can make waves, but man am I disappointed in the franchise and believe their long-term outlook got worse after this selection.
Definitely guilty of some overdrafts here, the Lions are far from the biggest losers in this draft. They drafted for team need, and were able to trade down in the process. However, grabbing a talented RB in Jahmyr Gibbs is simply an overdraft for how valuable the position actually is, no matter the team need. Additionally, Jack Campbell should be a fine starter at a sorely lacking interior linebacker position. However, he was far from the best player on the board, and may look like a poor pick 5-10 years from now as an average starter with dynamic players like Jaxon Smith-Njigba drafted a few picks later.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.