2023 NFL Round One Recap!


The 2023 NFL Draft is here! Dreams will be realized.  Dreams will be shattered.  Hope springs eternal as teams around the NFL roll the dice and make picks to improve their team in the unrelenting quest for the Lombardi trophy.  This year featured a lot of wheeling and dealing.  Teams at the top of the draft picked according to what they needed.  There are curious picks.  There are steals.  There are reaches.  Some teams made picks in anticipation of the future of their team.  Below is my stream of conscious thoughts per pick.


  1. Bryce Young. Quarterback. Panthers get their Man.  They moved up knowing this is the QB they wanted.  Great pairing with Frank Reich.  First player from Alabama to be drafted number one overall.  The NFC South has another sub six foot sniper that the whole league will need to be concerned about. Tough, accurate and his best attribute is his ability to process the field accurately and make the right decision.


  1. CJ Stroud. Quarterback  Texans.  They pick their quarterback of the future.  This is an interesting gamble.  Stroud has been streaky.  He plays hot and cold.  Overall, he can be very accurate, however at times he can be frustrated with pressure.  Stroud has had the benefit of some of the best receivers in college football.   Despite his streaky play, his last bowl game was a glimpse of what Stroud can really be.  We never saw him move around the field as much as he did against Georgia.  DeMeco Ryans tenure in Houston will forever be tied to this pick.  Don’t forget, Ryans is the third head coach in 3 years to run the Houston Franchise….


  1. Will Anderson Jr., Linebacker/Edge.  Texans.  Houston trades up from 12 with the Cardinals for this pick.  This is a pure DeMeco Ryans pick.  Anderson Jr. is the prototypical NFL linebacker.   He is a two-time Nagurski winner.  He is a tremendous pass rusher.  He is a top five player in this year’s draft.  His speed, size and intelligence will allow Ryans to move him around the defense as he sees fit.  There is some question as to whether the Texans gave up too much draft capital to take Anderson Jr. at this spot.  Ryans played linebacker at Alabama.  As a first year NFL head coach, he takes an Alabama linebacker with the 3rd overall pick. Feels like destiny.
Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. celebrates with fans after being chosen by the Houston Texans with the third overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
  1. Anthony Richardson. Quarterback.  Colts.  I think he is a project at best.  He has tremendous athleticism.  He has tremendous arm strength.  However, he only has 13 starts.  It is unfair to compare him with Cam Newton.  Cam won a championship in Junior college at Blinn, Texas and he won a championship for Auburn.  He was a four-year starter.  Richardson’s resume is paltry compared to Newton’s.  Richardson’s future is dependant on his ability to develop quickly.  I am skeptical that the Colts will be able to do that.  The Colt’s best hope is that Richardson will develop similarly to Josh Allen…


  1. Devon Witherspoon. Cornerback.  Seahawks.  Pete Carroll finds a highly productive player to play opposite of Tariq Woolen.  He has the speed and ball skills to justify the high pick.  His best attribute is his motor and aggressiveness.  He isn’t afraid to come up and hit you.  He tackles with technique and nastiness.  Given how he plays, durability will be a concern. He is one of the few players in this draft who played all four years of college ball.


  1. Paris Johnson Jr.  Tackle.  Cardinals.  (Lions trade this pick to the Cardinals.)  Arizona acquires much needed help to protect Kyler Murray.  He has the measurables and technique to play as a first-year starter.  He plays high against the rush and will need polishing.  However, his lateral quickness and length will make up for his current short comings.  He is a tremendous run blocker and awesome in space.   Ultimately, barring injury, Paris should be a 10-year starter.


  1. Tyree Wilson.  Defensive End.  Raiders.  Patrick Mahomes has a fellow alum to be concerned about chasing him around twice a year.  Considered the best pass rusher in the Big 12, Wilson has a lot of upside.  Over 6-5 and 271 pounds he has tremendous length.  His best natural attribute is how quickly he converts his speed to power during the rush.  He really came into his own his senior year, though his sack production was the same as his junior year in part time duty (7 sacks each year).  Coaching will determine how well he develops.  I grade this pick as a reach.


  1. Bijan Robinson.  Running Back.  Falcons.  This is the best running back in this year’s draft.  He can run, catch, and block.  He has great vision and elusiveness.  He is special.  His route tree is advanced.  He is an offensive weapon.  I think he might be the second-best player in overall talent in this draft.  He is also one of my personal favorite players in this draft.  Robinson was the engine that made the Texas offense run, regardless of who the head coach was.  He is going to be a major problem to deal with for at least the next six years.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson and family pose on the NFL draft red carpet, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Images for NFL/Doug Benc)
  1. Jalen Carter. Defensive Tackle.  Eagles.  (Bears trade pick to Eagles).  Carter is a top five player in this draft.  He replaces Javon Hargrave who just signed with the 49ers.  Most think he is the most talented player in this draft.  Suffering from character issues, he will need to stay focused to be a top contributor for the Eagles.  He will reunite with Jordan Davis who the Eagles drafted in the first-round last year.  Eagles defensive line has the potential to be very nasty.


  1. Darnell Wright.  Offensive Tackle.  Bears.  Great Pick.  Versatile tackle who has the ability to play right or left tackle.  He kept Jalen Carter in check when Tennessee played Georgia this year.  Lots of upside.  Solid top ten pick for the Bears who desperately need to find protection for their young quarterback.  I think he might be a steal.  Another 10-year starter is off the board.


  1. Peter Skoronski. Offensive Lineman. Titans.  He played tackle at Northwestern.  Given his lack of length, he may transition to guard.  Old school offensive lineman. He is a great run blocker in space.  He pulls and smashes into the defenders with power and technique.  Excellent pass protector.  His size might make him a reach…however he is very skilled.


  1. Jahmyr Gibbs. Running Back.  Lions.  A dynamic player who is extremely effective in the pass game.  Advanced route tree.  Tremendous quickness thru the hole and excellent top end speed in open space.  Played for Georgia Tech and Alabama.  Smart and experienced in multiple running schemes.  I am not sure this was a position of need for the Lions though.  This feels like a luxury pick and might even be a reach.


  1. Lukas Van Ness.  Defensive End.  Packers.  Great Size.   He was not a starter but played the most snaps at defensive end on the Hawkeyes roster.  Physical Rugged Dynamic Player.  Great quickness and power.  Was the defensive leader in the Hawkeye locker room.  This is a typical Packers pick and Van Ness will fit well in Green Bay.


  1. Broderick Jones.  Tackle.  Steelers.  (Patriots traded to Steelers).  Kenny Pickett gets some protection.  Excellent pass protector in space.  Great run blocker in space.  Athlete.  Plays with a nastiness that will fit will in Pittsburg.  Brings the Georgia championship pedigree to a historic NFL franchise.  10-year starter.


  1. Will McDonald IV.  Defensive End.  Jets.  One of the best pass rushers in the Big 12, Will collected 34 sacks at Iowa State.  Whenever you played Iowa State, you had to game plan for Will McDonald.  He would normally be considered undersized, however in Robert Saleh’s defense, he is an excellent choice for a Wide 9 rush end.  He plays with a high motor and excellent intelligence.  His blue collar mentality is a great fit for the Jets.


  1. Emmanual Forbes.  Defensive Back.  Washington.  Extremely fast.  Great length.  Only 166 pounds.  He plays aggressive.  Can play man and zone.  Durability will be a concern.  He needs to add weight and strength.  This pick is a reach today, but could be a steal tomorrow depending on how he develops.  Not ready to start…not sure I pick a special teams player this high….


  1. Christian Gonzalez.  Corner Back.  Patriots.  Steal.  He terrorized the PAC 12.  By far the best player on Oregon’s roster.  6’1, 197 pounds and a 4.38 40 yard dash.  He is a physical athletic player with excellent ball skills.  He can play press man and zone.  Intelligent.  Typical Patriot Pick.  Bill Walsh prototypical player at the corner position.  Day one Starter.  Barring injury, 10 year starter.  Patriots will make him earn his spot though.  I think he will rise to the occasion.


  1. Jack Campbell.  Linebacker.  Lions.  As a stack linebacker, he is huge.  He is 6’4 and 249 pounds.  He has excellent intelligence and lateral quickness.  He can also run down the middle of the field with tight ends. He has the versatility and talent to start.  Another blue collar Iowa player who will be in the league for a while.


  1. Calijah Kancey.  Defensive End.  Buccaneers.  Reach.  He was a combine rock star.  At 6’1, 281 pounds, he lacks the length to be effective on the edge.  He only wins with quickness.  Explosive hands, and good ball get off.  He must win early or he gets stoned and knocked around at the line.  Prognosticators compare him to Aaron Donald.  Kancey didn’t have Donalds production in college.  Defense Ends at this size struggle.  He may play defensive tackle in pass rush downs where he has a chance to offer a change up to slower guards.


  1. Jaxon Smith-Ngjigba.  Wide Receiver.  Seahawks.  This is the Seahawks second pick in round one.  Steal.  He is the best receiver in this year’s draft in my opinion.  He is a highly productive player.  Excellent ball skills.  He is the best route runner in this year’s draft.  Excellent quickness but speed is average.  Durability will be a concern due to his size.   Jaxon has an excellent veteran in Tyler Lockett to learn from.  NFC West should be on notice given the Seahawks first round picks.  He plays big in the biggest moment.  His Rose Bowl stats were 15 receptions for 347 yards and 3 TDs.


  1. Quentin Johnston.  Wide Receiver.  Chargers.  High character player.  Comes from a military family.  One of my favorite players in this year’s draft.  He has tremendous size and plays with aggressive physicality.  He was a problem to deal with in the Big 12.  Defenses always had to account for him.  Excellent ball skills.  He usually wins the 50/50 ball.  Run after catch is one of the best in this draft.  Needs to improve his route running skills. Struggled at times against big physical defensive backs.  Overall, he will be an excellent fit in the Chargers offense.
TCU football wide receiver Quentin Johnston catches a pass during NFL Pro Day, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
  1. Zay Flowers.  Wide Receiver.  Ravens.  Lamar gets a new receiver to throw to.  Many think he is the best receiver in the draft.  High character.  He turned down big NIL money to remain at Boston College.   Great speed and quickness.  Tenacious.  Relentless.  Highly productive despite an average quarterback.  He is explosive and elusive.  YAC king.  He is a bit of an unknown on the big stage.  Could be a steal.  Will be an excellent understudy under Odell Beckham Jr.


  1. Jordan Addison.  Wide Receiver.  Vikings. He is an extremely versatile player.  Durability will be a concern given his size.  He is an excellent route runner.  Great game speed.  Smart hard working player.  A great fit for the Vikings offense.


  1. Deonte Banks.  Defensive Back.  Giants.  Steal.  Great size and speed combination.  One of the best athletes in the draft.  His comp is L’Jarius Sneed.  He is great in man-to-man coverage which is an excellent fit for the Giants defense.  CeeDee Lamb, Terry McLaurin and AJ Brown will have their hands full with Banks.


  1. Dalton Kincaid.  Tight End.  Bills.  STEAL! This is also one of my favorite players in this years draft.  Though slightly undersized, he is the best tight end in this draft.  Kincaid is an excellent athlete.  He reminds me of Delanie Walker. He is a man coverage beater.  He plays with grit and toughness.  He is a touchdown machine.  He can run the full route tree.  He needs to improve as a blocker.


  1. Mazi Smith.  Defensive Tackle.  Cowboys.  This is a need pick.  Normally I would say this is a reach, however the Cowboys struggled against the run last year.  This is not a sexy pick, but it might be a good pick.  A two-year starter, Mazi Smith was highly productive his senior year as he anchored the Wolverine defensive line.  He is the type of blue-collar player the Cowboy’s defense needs.  However, the offense should not have been neglected here.  Micheal Mayer is still available.


  1. Anton Harrison.  Tackle.  Jacksonville.   He is short for a tackle.   Harrison is a raw player.  He has great attributes that the Jaguars can develop given his athleticism.  He played left tackle for Oklahoma.  This is a development pick and a reach at this point in the draft.  The Jaguars can’t afford to make reaches as they are currently ascending.  This is not a surprising pick for Trent Baalke though.


  1. Miles Murphy.  Defensive End. Bengals.  Massive Reach.  He has loads of talent but is a project at best.  Murphy had decent production at Clemson but compares poorly to past players that the departed Brent Venables recruited and developed.  Given the fact that Micheal Mayer is still on the board, this pick is puzzling.  Joe Burrow needs a reliable tight end. However, their defensive line coach is well known for developing talent….


  1. Bryan Bresee.  Defensive Tackle.  Saints.  An explosive, talented player with length.  He has durability concerns.  With his size, and strength combined with his explosive ball get off, he has the potential to be one of the best picks in this draft.  Saints hope to develop him to his full potential.


  1. Nolan Smith.  Linebacker, Edge.  Eagles. (2nd first round pick this draft) MASSIVE STEAL!  He is a top ten talent in this year’s draft.  Possibly the second-best edge rusher in this draft.  Tremendously undersized, however he is highly productive and one of the most explosive players in the draft.  His comp is his new teammate, Hassan Reddick.  He plays with a relentless motor.  Philadelphia is turning into the new home for elite Georgia Bulldogs players.  They have taken four defensive players from Georgia in the last two years.


  1. Felix Anudike-Uzomah.  Defensive End.  Chiefs.  He is the Big 12 player of the year.  He notably compares to Matthew Judon.  He is a dirty work player.  He sets the edge against the run well.  He anchored the KSU defensive line for two years.  His sophomore year he collected 11 sacks forcing the Big 12 offenses to scheme around him his junior year.  He has great quickness off the edge.  He also has a unique ability to force fumbles, as he forced 8 over his two-year starting career at Kansas State.  Uzomah never regressed. He improved every time he stepped on the football field.  Given his youth he still has room to develop.  Steve Spagnuolo is the coach to develop him to his full potential.  He is an excellent pick at 31. He is from Lees Summit, Missouri which is a suburb of Kansas City.  So, its pretty cool that a KSU alum, who is a basically a KC native was drafted by the Chiefs when the draft was held in Kansas City.  It is a memory he will never forget.
Kansas State defensive lineman Felix Anudike-Uzomah runs through a drill during the NCAA college football team’s NFL Pro Day in Manhattan, Kan., Friday, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Many want to debate who won day one of the draft.  It is difficult to say until next season is over.  Many thought the Jets won the draft last year with their two first round picks.  However, I believe the Chiefs won the whole draft last year given the fact that they had seven rookies on the field in the Super Bowl.  That is excellent scouting and player development.

There are two surprises for me in this draft.  Will Levis and Micheal Mayer were not picked.  I didn’t expect Mayer to be a high first round pick, but I did expect Dallas to take him if Kincaid came off the board before him.  As for Levis, I think he is better than Richardson.  However, it appears the GMs around the league think otherwise.  We have two more days of draft excitement!

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2 Responses

  1. Really liked your takes. Colts blew it not taking Levis and Banks could easily go down as THE get of this draft. Chiefs needed a tackle. FAU is a nice homegrown heartwarming grab but too early to play nice.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts! It is an interesting draft to be sure. I don’t think we will know who wins the draft until the end of the season.

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