By Joey Bachich
The NFL draft has concluded after three days of life changing decisions for college football players and hope for NFL franchises and their fans. A new NFL record, 41 total trades occurred over the three days, with the majority coming during day three. Three quarterbacks were taken within the first four picks, a team traded into the top three, and a pro bowl running back was traded to a contending franchise. In a draft that was not highly touted, with some front office members giving out first round grades to around only 15 players, the first round was impossible to predict besides the first overall pick. A quarterback from Alabama, Bryce Young looks to be the savior of Carolina after being taken by the Panthers who last season had a record of 7-10 and look to be in a fringe wildcard spot in the upcoming season. Kansas City was a great host, seeing the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Dude Perfect, DeMarcus Ware and many more. Fans packed the venue for all three days and were louder than ever. Some players rose and others fell, but the NFL teams have their class of 2023.
Quarterbacks and Will Levis
As mentioned before, Bryce Young went first overall to the Panthers after weeks of having a good feeling about being the man of the class. C.J. Stroud went second overall to the Houston Texans after some reports saying they were interested in passing on a quarterback, but Ohio State's QB was the pick. Anthony Richardson then went fourth in the draft to the Indianapolis Colts who no longer wanted to ride the veteran quarterback carousel and take the projected quarterback with high upside from Florida. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis then sat through the entire first round and was not picked by a team until day two. Levis, who once was a lock to go top five, getting taken in the second round is something that does not happen often. After the Colts picked Richardson, no team wanted to take the risk on the big arm quarterback. The Tennessee Titans took Will Levis after trading up in the second round to give the young quarterback a home. It is going to be interesting how these landing spots shape these young quarterbacks.
Georgia’s defensive tackle Jalen Carter was selected by the Eagles at pick nine after the Philadelphia team traded up one spot with the Chicago Bears. With the infrastructure in place in Philadelphia, they had the ability to take a risk with the character issues, but got one of the best on the field players. Carter's collegiate teammates, defensive end Nolan Smith and cornerback Kelee Ringo, also joined the Eagles along with former Detroit Lions’ running back D’Andre Swift, who they traded for.
The Seahawks after round one acquired one of the best corners of the draft and the consensus number one receiver in the class. Devon Witherspoon, corner from Illinois, adds a hardnose edge to their defense and Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba adds a new slot weapon to an already stacked offense. They also gained UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet in the second round to go along with an already elite running game.
Las Vegas Raiders
A sneaky winner of the draft is the Las Vegas Raiders. Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson fell to them at pick seven after there were talks of him possibly going as high as pick three. He looks to be a fantastic player for the Raiders, along with the great pick of tight end Michael Mayer. The Notre Dame standout fell out of the first round and again the Raiders did not try and out think the room and drafted the best player available. They also took some great secondary players later in the draft and the Raiders came out of the weekend better than they were.
Other winners - Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers
The Commanders made the right pick by position in round one, but took the wrong player. Cornerback from Mississippi State Emmanuel Forbes was pick number 16, and while he is not a bad player, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez was still on the board. Their other defensive back they took in Illinois’ Jartavius Martin was a good selection, but passing on Gonzalez might be looked back on as a bad decision.
The Dolphins were without a first round pick due to tampering and had to forfeit their selection. While the players they took were not bad, they just had four players taken and had one player taken in the top 75. Running back Devon Achane from Texas A&M might be a great pickup however, so it is not all bad for the Dolphins in Miami.
San Francisco 49ers
Just like Miami, the 49ers did not have a first round pick, and they also did not have a second round pick. They only took two players in the top 100 and one of them was a kicker. Kicker Jake Moody from Michigan was selected No. 99 in the third round. Moody is going to be in the league for a long time but the 49ers reached pretty high to pick a kicker. All of their other picks are not anything to write home about, so they are a team who ranks low in the draft.
Other losers - The Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos.
The 2023 NFL Draft is still a mystery box but on paper a ton of teams got better. Some teams have picked future NFL Hall of Fame inductees, and some teams picked players who will not make it past year two. This is why fans love the draft; it is the hope of the unknown. Tom Brady was once picked No. 199 in his draft class. No one knows where the next few superstars will fall.