The 2023 NFL Draft has finally come to an end. Two hundred fifty-nine young men would hear their names called, realizing their dreams had come true. As always, every draft has its best and worst moments. Whether running to the podium for the no-brainer selection or selecting a player way higher than anticipated. Let’s look at the best and worst of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles become the Philadelphia Bulldogs
A season ago, the Eagles entered the league possessing arguably the deepest and most talented defensive front. Disruptive players like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Haason Reddick helped pave the way to a Super Bowl appearance.
The Eagles watched as two Georgia Bulldogs fell into their hands. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Edge rusher Nolan Smith. The fun didn’t stop as Eagles general manager Howie Roseman added Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo and traded for a former Bulldog in Deandre Swift. All these players will join former Bulldogs, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.
Overall, it’s hard to point out any weaknesses, but after this past week, the Eagles made clear they are still contenders. So why not pluck talent from the best team in college football? It’s best to have all Georgia players going to Philly in future mock drafts. Then the Eagles should scrimmage against the two-time national champs.
Not once but twice the Detroit Lions reach
The last two drafts the Lions have nailed. Players such as Penei Sewell, Aiden Hutchinson, Amon Ra St Brown, and Malcolm Rodriguez have given Detroit a foundation to build. However, this draft for the Lions was a surprise for all of us, with a pair of first-round picks, one from the Rams off the Matthew Stanford trade. Nevertheless, the Lions made some interesting selections.
The Lions held the 12th and 18th picks in the opening round. At 12, the Lions opted to go with running back Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama. There is no denying the talent he brings to the table. Gibbs creates mismatches as a runner and receiver and can be a home run hitter. However, many experts agree that the Alabama product would have been available at pick 18 for the Lions. The Lions could have addressed their cornerback position here with players like Christian Gonzalez and Deonte Banks on the board. The Lions already had Deandre Swift and David Montgomery going into the draft. I expected them to use this pick in a more premium position.
Detroit was back on the clock at pick 18. They selected Iowa linebacker, Jack Campbell. He fills a need and is a very athletic player with great size and range. The question is whether he should have been selected this high. With a suspension given to wide receiver Jameson Williams, this could have been the opportunity to select one of the top wide receivers to help the passing game that will have to begin the season without one of its top weapons.
As of now, we will have to wait and see. If both players live up to their potential, we will forget they were selected this high in the draft. If not, then we will insert a bunch of what-ifs.
The New York Giants find great value
A year ago, the Giants were picking in the top 10. A year later, the Giants were picking late in the first round for the first time in forever. What a turnaround it was for big blue. They were in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and had their first playoff win since Super Bowl 46 in February 2012. The Giants have found a general manager in Joe Schoen who understands the blueprints of putting together a competitive squad.
What stands out about Schoen is that he understands value and talent over fit. The Giants watched as four consecutive wide receivers came off the board before their pick. Then, with a big need to get quarterback Daniel Jones a go-to weapon, the Giants opted to go defense with Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks with the 24th pick. A physical and athletic player. This was the right pick rather than reaching on a wideout. Banks was ranked as the third-best corner on PFFs draft board. He should be slotted in as the starter opposite of Adoree Jackson.
The best didn’t stop. The Giants watched center John Michael Schmitz out of Minnesota fall to them at pick 57 and traded up with the Rams from pick 89 to 73 to select Tennessee wide receiver, Jalin Hyatt. The Giants addressed a need on the offensive line and a guy with the traits to be a starter for the next ten years. On the outside, fans can relax knowing the Giants got Jones a fun new weapon in Hyatt. An explosive playmaker whose speed jumps out above anything. Just ask Alabama defenders when they faced Hyatt. The Giants could have reached on these guys in round one. Both were placed in the first round in different mock drafts. Instead, they went with value and played it right as they watched two more players fall and were able to grab them at the right time.
Overall, what puts the Giants on the best side of things? This draft doesn’t have the makings of a 2011 or 2014-like class. The talent didn’t jump out like previous classes had. So rather than moving back, the Giants traded up multiple times to draft highly-quality players who can contribute immediately.
The Titans are now juggling quarterbacks
In the third round of the 2022 draft, the Tennessee Titans selected quarterback Malik Willis who fell into round three. A year later, the Titans moved up to the top pick of the second round to select Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
As Willis did, Levis slipped outside the first round. The Titans will go into the 2023 season with Ryan Tannehill, whose cap hit is $36 million, and two quarterbacks they spent high draft picks on. For starters, this makes Willis pick a wasted one. The Titans lack offensive skill outside of Derek Henry, with Tannehill entering the final year of his deal and quarterback talents such as Caleb Williams and Drake Maye in the 2024 draft. The Titans should have looked to build up their skill unit. With day two picks like Jalin Hyatt, Nathaniel Dell, and Marvin Mimms available to help bolster the skill talent. Instead, they gave up picks 41, 72, and a future third in 2024 to select the Kentucky product.
Now Levis could pan out and be the guy. Only time will tell. However, I would have looked ahead to next year’s draft and bet on the talent at QB coming out while looking to plug up other holes on the roster.
The Seahawks roster is taking place
The Seattle Seahawks were a surprise team a season ago. Finishing 9-8 and qualifying for the playoffs. Many believed they would draft at the top of the first round in 2023 after trading longtime quarterback and future hall of famer Russell Wilson to Denver. Well funny how things work as the Seahawks did draft up high, but with the Broncos pick from the Wilson trade after the Broncos struggled all of last season.
The best storyline for a player last year may have been Geno Smith after struggling much of his career to find consistency. Smith found his calling as the starter in Seattle, winning comeback player of the year, and much credit has to go to the young talent on the team. Guys like Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas, DK Metcalf, Kenneth Walker II, and co-interception leader Tariq Woolen helped pave the way to a return in the postseason.
Seattle continued to bolster their roster with a pair of first-round picks in the 2023 draft. At pick five, they selected cornerback Devon Witherspoon from Illinois. The young corner possesses great instincts and ball skills and will be a great pair with Woolen. Fifteen picks later. The Seahawks added Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba to add with a talented duo in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Njigba adds strong play in the slot, is a good route runner, and will make Smith’s life easier. To top it off, the Seahawks drafted Auburn edge rusher Derrick Hall who can fly off the ball and gives great effort each play.
When looking at the talent on each side. The Seahawks have a pair of young talented cornerbacks and offensive tackles, a trio of receivers to get the ball to, a young talented back, and a quarterback coming off a career year. This team is ready to pick up where they left off and compete for a playoff spot.
New England Patriots are looking up at the division
The talent builds up in the AFC East, especially at quarterback. The Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers just a few days before the draft, the Bills have an MVP-caliber quarterback, and injuries aside, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is coming off a career year. The Patriots, who once had the best for 20 years, are entering year three of the Mac Jones era. After helping lead the Patriots to the postseason as a rookie. Jones hit a sophomore slump, and the Patriots fell back.
While reports have surfaced about the confidence in Jones to lead the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick gave his take.
“Yeah, I mean, look, Mac’s been our quarterback for two years,” Belichick told reporters. “As I tell the team every year, each player, each coach, we all have to re-establish and prove ourselves every year. That’s what this league is. That’s for all of us — ’23 is ’23. We’ll see how ’23 goes.”
While Jones needs to play his role and lead the Patriots back into postseason contention, Belichick and the rest of the offense must also play their role. The difference between the Patriots and the other three teams in the AFC East is that the other teams have surrounded their quarterbacks with elite talent at the skill position. While the Patriots added former Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, they are lacking and have been lacking a true number-one wideout for their young quarterback. Their leading receiver last season was Jakobi Meyers, who posted just 806 yards and is now in Vegas. In a division with playmakers like Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Garrett Wilson, it is clear that the team needs to improve in this area.
It makes sense that they selected Oregon corner Christian Gonzalez at pick 15. As for the rest of the draft, the Patriots passed up a load of talent at receiver on day two. With players like Jailin Hyatt and Nathaniel Dell available, they elected to continue to build on defense. A strong defense is needed for a good team, but heading into this season. Juju Smith-Schuster is Jones’s top weapon. Not sure how I would feel about that if I were a Patriots fan. They did add LSU wideout Kayshon Boutte and Liberty receiver Demario Douglas in the sixth round. Still, they wouldn’t expect a sixth-rounder to make some immediate impact right away or if ever.
Experts, fans, and analysts can give their takes on who won the draft and the best and worst selections. Nevertheless, only time will tell which teams won this three-day event in Kansas City.