WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM THE 2023 NFL DRAFT

2023-04-30 · 5 min read · NFL/Football
Eagles seemed to bolster an already impressive roster with Jalen Carter

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The NFL Draft has come and gone, and now is the waiting game as the new NFL players work to earn a place with their respective teams before the start of the regular season.
It will be a while before we know which draft picks pan out and which ones buckle under the pressure, but here is my take on the winners and losers from last week.
Winners
Philadelphia Eagles and Georgia Bulldogs
After being a holding call away from potentially capturing the Super Bowl, the Eagles seemed to bolster an already impressive roster last week.
The fact that Jalen Carter was still on the board when Philly was on the clock was a steal for the Eagles as he was arguably the best all-around athlete heading into the draft, while Philly double dipped in the latter stages of round one, taking fellow Bulldog Nolan Smith at #30.
Three rounds later, at #105, Howie Roseman couldn’t resist choosing another Georgia product, adding Keele Ringo to the squad.
Philadelphia is the first team in the common draft era (since 1967) to select five defensive players from the same school (Georgia) over two years.
That’s a testament to how strong the Bulldogs program has been of late and how savvy the Eagles have been at the draft, as they look like solid favourites to return to the Super Bowl next season.
Carolina Panthers
When you make a trade to move up the draft board, there’s an inherent risk that goes along with it because as good as those prospects look in college, there are plenty of unknowns about how they will fare in the professional ranks.
While we won’t know if the likes of Bryce Young and others will work out, there are a lot of tools for Frank Reich to work with next season.
Young had the best floor/ceiling combination of everyone in the 2023 draft class, and he will have some veteran receivers to help him out such as Adam Thielen and a reliable tight end with Hayden Hurst.
They also added an under-the-radar offensive lineman when they chose Chandler Zavala, who has excellent hands and should allow Young more time in the pocket.
All in all, there are a lot of pieces for this Panthers team to work with, and although it’s a work in progress, I wouldn’t put it past them to contend for the NFC South crown next season, given how wide open that division will be.
Indianapolis Colts
Since Andrew Luck’s career was sadly cut short by injuries, the Colts have been on the hunt for a long-term quarterback, and Anthony Richardson has plenty of bounce in his step.
He’s fast and versatile and can make something out of nothing, and there should be some help for him as they got Josh Down with the 79th pick, a solid wide receiver who looks to be NFL-ready.
Add to that a strong cover man in Julius Brents and BYU offensive tackle Blake Freeland, and there’s a lot to like right now about what the Colts achieved last week.
Tight Ends
There are plenty of well-established, explosive tight ends in the league at the moment, such as George Kittle and Travis Kelce, to name a few, and if the ones taken last week live up to the hype, it could be a nightmare time for NFL cornerbacks and safeties in the coming years.
Nine tight ends were taken in the first two days of the draft, and then on Saturday, another six came off the board, leaving a total of 15 chosen at that position.
It will be interesting to see how these tight ends fare as there is potential in the likes of Dalton Kincaid and Sam LaPorta, who were taken by the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions respectively, however, both of those teams already have some solid pass catchers who’ve developed good chemistry with their respective quarterbacks, so where will they all fit in?
Michael Mayer to Las Vegas could be an excellent blocker for Josh Jacobs, while Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft to Green Bay, as well as Luke Schoonmaker to Dallas will be players to watch in the future.
Losers
New Orleans Saints
The Saints didn’t do themselves any favours, it seems, at the draft, as they were near the back of the pack in the opening round and saw plenty of solid prospects fall off the board.
Bryan Breese and Isiah Foskey should provide some help up front; however, trades in previous years failed to put them higher in the draft, and I wonder how well the Saints will fare in a couple of years when father time catches up to their veteran group.
They may be one of the teams to catch in the NFC South next season; however, I don’t see many of their draft selections working out long-term.
Miami Dolphins
Miami’s dynamic passing attack was the talk of the league in 2022, but I didn’t see them do much to bolster their AFC East chances next season.
They are in a division which could be as competitive as it’s ever been in 20 years with Aaron Rodgers now a Jet, Josh Allen and the Bills still contenders, Bill Belichick’s defense still tough as ever and that explosive one-two punch for the Dolphins.
Because of a previous trade with the Denver Broncos, they didn’t have a first-round choice in the 2023 draft, with their first selection coming at #51 in cornerback Cam Smith.
Plenty of established veterans are on this team already, but they only chose four players at the draft this year, many in the later rounds.
If Tua’s injury issues continue next season, it’s hard to see this group competing for a playoff spot in 2023.
New England Patriots
The biggest rumour surrounding Bill Belichick’s Pats heading into the draft was the thought of moving on from Mac Jones, but instead, New England is sticking with the inconsistent QB, it appears, for now.
There were 10 QBs taken in the opening round, many with lots of upside, but instead, the franchise chose to stand Pat, no pun intended with what they have, a QB whose career appears to be on a downward trajectory.
They did get a solid cover man in Christian Gonzalez, while Keion White has plenty of potential as well, but New England didn’t get a lot of weapons for Mac Jones to throw to, so it’s hard to be excited about what this team can do offensively next season.
Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags had the first overall pick in 2021 and 2022, and it seems like things are on the right track with Doug Pederson as the head coach; however, it was an underwhelming few days in Duval County.
Jacksonville already has a young roster, and though them not having a top-10 pick for the first time in ages is a sign of how well they fared in 2022, the likes of Anton Harrison, Brenton Strange and Ventrell Miller were not the most hotly recruited prospects out of college.
Green Bay Packers
It’s Jordan Love’s team in Green Bay, but while Lukas Van Ness seems legit, if Love falters or gets hurt next season, Matt LaFleur’s team could be in for a rough campaign.
The most curious selection for them was when they went with Penn State’s Sean Clifford in the fifth round, as he saw limited playing time behind center in college and was available that late in the draft for a reason.
Green Bay could have some good pass catchers and blockers in Musgrave and Kraft, but there will be plenty of question marks surrounding this franchise heading into the 2023 campaign.
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By: Joel Lefevre

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