The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. Bryce Young went first overall to the Carolina Panthers, while this year’s Mr. Irrelevant was defensive end Desjuan Johnson at No. 259 to the Los Angeles Rams. As teams continue to expand their rosters by adding undrafted free agents, we can take a look back over the 2023 NFL Draft and determine which teams came out the other side as a winner and who ended up as a loser.
The Texans held steady at No. 2 to select CJ Stroud and then made the shocking move to trade up to No. 3 to get Will Anderson. They went on to add depth at C, WR, DE and ILB. Houston may still be rebuilding for another season as everyone gets their NFL experience, but they drafted some really solid pieces this year to expedite the process.
How many more Georgia players can the Eagles take? The 2021 Bulldog defense is considered one of the best college defenses ever, and Philly now has five players that played on it. Even looking toward the 2023 season, it stands to reason that four of the players from that team will be starting for the Eagles, with Kelee Ringo likely also getting a shot in certain formations. Throw in that Philadelphia also picked up Tyler Steen for the offensive line and Sydney Brown for the secondary, and the Eagles are looking like they are going to be good again.
The Arizona Cardinals made nine picks in this year’s draft. They boosted the offensive line with Paris Johnson Jr and Joe Gaines II and added to the defensive depth with BJ Ojulari and Garrett Williams. What they didn’t do was draft any sort of competitive running back that could challenge the workload that Conner will get. The Cardinals will have to lean on Conner for however long that Kyler Murray is sidelined recovering from his knee injury, but there won’t be any competition for the starting gig.
It’s hard to have a draft people love when you aren’t drafting a flashy quarterback, running or wide receiver, but the Steelers pulled it off. They traded up to get Broderick Jones in the first to help their atrocious offensive line. Steelers legacy Joey Porter Jr. fell into the team’s lap at the start of the second round. They upgraded on defense and added some tight end depth, and have really come away from the draft with a solid outcome, addressing all of their team needs.
Baker Mayfield and Sam Howell
Quarterback landing sports were tracked like a hawk, especially with a near-record number of quarterbacks being drafted. Obviously, at a certain point, they are considered depth anyway, but the presence of a potential challenger to the starting gig of a quarterback could change the season outlook. Neither the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nor the Washington Commanders spent any draft capital on a quarterback. This means that Baker Mayfield and Sam Howell have a clear shot at starting for their respective teams this fall.
Cleveland paid a hefty price for Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore and that included not making a single selection until the third round. Cedric Tillman, Siaki Ika, and Dawand Jones are players that could contribute as rookies, but the class as a whole is underwhelming and the Browns intentionally took themselves out of position to draft difference-makers. Those trades better produce results soon.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. The NFL caught Miami red-handed in trying to tamper with Tom Brady and Sean Payton and the Dolphins were stripped of their first-round pick as punishment. As a result, the Dolphins only made four picks in this year’s draft and as an up-and-coming team trying to break through as AFC contender, this is where they could’ve added weapons and depth. Wasted opportunity here.
Ok, listen Bijan Robinson is going to monster in the NFL. I’m not here to dispute his selection as a top 10 pick. But for the Falcons specifically, they needed help across the defensive line and Jalen Carter was staring them right in the face. They then chose to wait until the third round to address their pass rush but chose a prospect in Harrison that fell short of being the next dominant defensive end at Ohio State. I will credit them for taking a DUDE with Phillips in round four, but it felt like they didn’t properly address their needs in this draft.
Just one year after getting tons of pre-draft hype, Malik Willis’ days with the Tennessee Titans are already numbered. The Titans traded up in the second round to draft Kentucky quarterback Will Levis and he will presumably be the successor to Ryan Tannehill. The organization has completely shifted course since Willis was taken in the third round last year, with the December ouster of GM Jon Robinson being the catalyst for the change. Willis didn’t help himself on the field either, playing poorly in his handful of appearances as a rookie. Now he’s all but out the door in Nashville.
It was a great weekend for the Baltimore Ravens, starting with Lamar Jackson finally signing a record-breaking contract extension with the organization. The team then used its first-round pick on speedy Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers and that is bad news for current Ravens wideout Rashod Bateman. The now third-year weapon has yet to break out for the team as injuries have hampered him. He played in just six games last year before a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. The Ravens have now effectively found his replacement and that is not good news for Bateman or fantasy managers who have him on their rosters.