Top 10 Winners of the 2023 NFL Draft's First RoundThe first day of the 2023 NFL Draft had some major surprises from trades to surprising picks. Some teams were the winners while others were the losers. Here are the top 10 2023 NFL draft winners from the first round.
All offseason, the Texans caused so much chaos and drama by simply not revealing their hands. With so many rumors about them either drafting a quarterback not named Bryce Young (Alabama) or CJ Stroud (Ohio State) or passing on a QB for a defensive edge, no one was certain what the Texans would do. But when the second pick rolled around and with potential for division rivals to strike for a quarterback, Houston shocked everyone not once, but twice. First they selected Stroud with the second pick in the draft despite a reported bad S2 test. Then, the Texans gave up a ton of picks to move up from 12 to 3 to select defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama). The Texans' draft choices then sent everyone following them into chaos leading to a number of trades and players sliding. While time may tell if these choices lead to wins and potential conference title and Super Bowl aspirations, this was a home run pick for a team trying to escape three horrific years of futility. .
The Philadelphia Eagles' biggest problem in Super Bowl 57 was their inability to get to Patrick Mahomes. The Eagles addressed those concerns in the first round when they selected not one, but two defensive players from the two-time national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Trading for the ninth pick from the Bears, the Eagles selected Jalen Carter, who while at one time was considered the best defensive player in the draft had since been hit with an off-field situation. Then with the 31st pick, Philly added linebacker Nolan Smith, also from the national champion Bulldogs. Along with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, Philly's defense will look to be a 2021 Georgia Bulldog reunion in the front four as they will look to redeem themselves from last season's loss.
A lot of concern was felt in Baltimore as to whether or not Lamar Jackson would remain with the Ravens. But those fears were quelled when Jackson signed a five-year extension marking him as the highest paid quarterback. Then, Baltimore added another offensive weapon for him by selecting Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers. Alongside Odell Beckham Jr, Jackson will look to return to the MVP-type player he was before and the Ravens will certainly look to challenge the Bengals for AFC North supremacy.
Arizona had the third pick entering the draft, but didn't feel the need to use it. So they offered to trade their pick for anyone wanting to buy and it was Houston who gave them a ton of picks in return. Arizona was now sitting in 12th, but they still traded up halfway to six, which initially belonged to Detroit and wound up selecting tackle Paris Johnson Jr. Drafting PJ would fix a hole in the Cardinals' O-line to protect quarterback Kyler Murray and create holes for running back James Connor.
Rumors of tension between Mac Jones and Bill Belichick led some to believe the Patriots would wind up taking a quarterback late like Hendon Hooker or Will Levis. When the Patriots traded down, it seemed to be a sign that a QB would be taken. However, New England took Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez, rated as the #1 corner. This pick not only helps add to a cornerback group looking to elevate their play, but also adds more picks for New England in the future.
When Carolina traded with Chicago for the top pick in the NFL Draft, it was expected that they would be targeting a quarterback. What no one saw coming was that which quarterback picked first would Carolina get? The Panthers were at first expected to take Stroud. But then, rumors of Stroud's test score and other factors came into light while Young was viewed as the best QB in the draft. The Panthers were the winner before the draft because they were able to trade up for the number one pick while the Texans came so close to doing so. Carolina should also thank Houston for winning the last game against the Colts. If it wasn't for that and Houston's last-minute decision to back-off, the Panthers might be getting a different quarterback of the future instead of Bryce Young.
As much as Buffalo possessed one of the game's best offenses, one area where they struggled with was in the red zone. In order to fix that problem, the Bills needed a tight end. Buffalo had to leapfrog Dallas, who was also looking for a TE. The Bills would trade No. 27 and 130picks to Jacksonville so that they would take Dalton Kincaid of Utah. With his 6-4 frame and ability to beat man coverage, the Bills might've found the missing piece to get them over the hump.
The Indianapolis Colts kept an eye on the Texans wondering what they were going to do. In need of a quarterback, the Colts hoped the Texans would pass on CJ Stroud. Instead, the Texans stunned them by taking Stroud. But the Texans also saved the Colts by trading for the third pick as well to take a defensive edge. This meant Indy would get their quarterback and they took Anthony Richardson of Florida, who had been the highlight at the NFL Combine. By drafting Richardson, the Colts answered the Texans' challenge of choosing the right quarterback. The AFC South Division might be a wild one with the quarterback play as Richardson and Stroud try to knock off Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville.
The Bears knew that despite finishing with the worst record and having the number one pick that they were okay at the quarterback position. Chicago would trade that pick to Carolina and the Bears would go to nine only to trade one spot back with Philadelphia. The Bears decided to give Justin Fields more protection as they would take Darnell Wright with their pick.
Geno Smith had a great comeback season for the Seahawks last year. But, there were some reports that the Seahawks might've been interested in taking a quarterback. Others were wondering if Seattle was going to trade out of the fifth spot. But, the Seahawks decided to keep their pick and drafted defensive back Devon Witherspoon. Then with the second first round pick, they selected Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith Njigba to help with Smith's passing game.
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