The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. We have seen months and months of mock drafts, but the top 31 players finally know where they will begin their NFL careers.
While the focus is on the players, the bigger picture is that teams are hoping their first round moves significantly improve their outlook for the 2023 season. Some picks were hits, and others were misses, as we discuss which teams got better on Thursday and which missed out.
Day 1 Winners
The Texans took CJ Stroud at No. 2. There were lengthy discussions about if Houston was going to go defense or even trade back from the pick, but they made the right call picking up a franchise quarterback. The Texans front office then shocked everyone moving right back up to select Will Anderson Jr. No. 3. This gives them a top quarterback and the top defender in the class. Sure, it cost them draft capital, but what a start to the draft.
The Seahawks crushed the first round of the NFL Draft. They didn’t squander the No. 5 overall pick and brought in Devon Witherspoon to pair with Tariq Woolen. That is a powerful cornerback duo that instantly improves the secondary. Seattle wasn’t done and picked up Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20. He fell in the draft but gives them one of the best wide receiver trios in the NFL, adding to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
The NFL Draft helps shine light on talented collegiate players as they take the steps to begin their pro careers. The 2021 Georgia Bulldog defense is considered one of the best of all time. The Eagles now have drafted four members of that defense. They traded up to get Jalen Carter, who fell to No. 9, and then had Nolan Smith fall in their laps at No. 30. Carter and Smith get added to a powerful defense that included Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean from last year’s draft.
Day 1 Losers
Listen, I’m a fan of Bijan Robinson, but the Falcons were on the clock with Jalen Carter and Christian Gonzalez both available. Atlanta ranked near the worst in the NFL for rushing the passer and had a glaring need for Carter. You could also make an argument their secondary needs another boost from Gonzalez. Robinson will be good, but they also replaced Tyler Allgeier, who ran for 1,000 yards as a rookie last season.
The Lions made some head-scratching moves in the first round. They selected Jahmyr Gibbs to pair with D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery. Swift could be traded, but the team just signed Monty in free agency. When they made their second pick, they had some top corners and wide receivers on the board but chose to go with LB Jack Campbell. Solid player, but the Lions clearly reached on both of their first round picks.
I think the Lions were the biggest losers from the first round, then a gap, and then the Falcons and the Packers. The latter two teams addressed needs, but I just think they overspent and addressed it too early. If you’re Green Bay, you have clamored for talented wide receivers in the first round for years. Now, you have moved on from Aaron Rodgers and could have sent a message of support to Jordan Love by taking a top wide receiver. They get a talented defender in Lukas Van Ness, but they could have either traded back if they really wanted him or taken a wide receiver at No. 13.